Seat Ibiza Cupra Concept at 2012 Beijing motor show

Published: 22 April 2012

Seat gave a clear indication that the hot hatch Cupra version of its Ibiza supermini isn't far away, with the Ibiza Cupra Concept at the 2012 Beijing auto show.

The Spanish have a long history of producing go-faster versions of its supermini; the first Ibiza Cupra launched in 1996 and the next one, based heavily on this concept car, lands in the UK by the end of 2012.

What powers the new Seat Ibiza Cupra Concept?

That'll be the VW Group's ubiquitous 1.4-litre four-cylinder TSI engine, breathed upon by both a turbo- and supercharger.

As on previous iterations, that puts power at 178bhp, driving through a seven-speed DSG twin-clutch transmission with fingertip shift paddles for that F1 feeling for the arcade-game generation.

Keeping 184lb ft of torque in check at the front axle is VW's XDS electronic diff, which quells any rampant wheelspin or axle tramp by reining in any excess. There's not a mechanical gear in sight - it's done through electronics.

And the design package of the Ibiza Cupra (2012)?

Naturally, the concept car on show in China is bright custard, dubbed Crono Yellow, contrasting with the smoked-black of the sunroof and door mirrors. It just wouldn't be a Seat without a Playschool colour scheme.

This is a three-door based on the Ibiza SC bodyshell. LED day-running lights are new, and LEDs populate the rear lamp clusters too - now with added squinty-eyed shapes built in.

The wheels are production-ready 17in items and the rear sports a centrally mounted trapezoidal exhaust pipe, nestling in a finned diffuser-effect rear apron.

Inside there's a new entertainment system which works with the portable sat-nav system like the one in the Seat Mii and VW Up. You can simply unclip the five-inch nav unit and take it with you while you finish your journey on foot. This will soon be offered across the whole Ibiza family, says Seat.

Seat boss speaks

James Muir, Seat president, said: ‘We are presenting the Ibiza Cupra Concept at the Beijing motor show because this compact athlete will be an important element in the development of our brand in this key market.’

Seat launches in China this week - with just 15 dealers spread across selected cities. The idea is to position the brand as a youthful choice for China's booming '1980s set.' That's buyers born after 1980 - a group making up a significiant part of the market.

But while the Spanish hope to treble sales within three years, nobody is yet willing to give any sales projections for VW's weakeset brand. Only the Leon is available at first, but further Seats will be imported to China soon.

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet

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