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Seat Ibiza SportCoupe (2008)

Published: 17 April 2008

Everyone's at it these days: passing off different bodystyles as new models in their own right. Seat is the latest to jump on the bandwagon - it will market the three-door Ibiza as the SportCoupe, hoping that the sexier tag rubs off on buyers. Make no mistake, it's really just a three-door supermini.

We saw the five-door Ibiza a few weeks back, and it was heavily trailed by the Bocanegra SportCoupe concept car from the 2008 Geneva Motor Show. And - no prizes for guessing - it's the Bocanegra that donated part of its name and most of its styling cues to the production three-door version.

It's a rakish supermini, not without hints of the Mazda 2 and Ford Fiesta in its wedgy profile. Strip away that disguise, and you'll be in no doubt that it's a Seat Ibiza, but insiders claim it has a strong identity of its own. We somehow doubt it will be quite as distinct as the three- and five-door Astra, though...

Where's the Bocanegra's black snout? I rather liked that...

Sadly, there are no plans - yet - to introduce the comic strip-inspired front end for production Seats. Bocanegra translates as 'black mouth' and the front end was wrapped in black perspex, giving the car a broody, moody air.

Design boss Luc Donckerwolke told CAR that he was purely experimenting with the black nose; it's extremely unlikely for production, although he admitted he was looking for a way to make the Cupra models more distinctive.

Click here for the full story on the Bocanegra.

Click 'Next' to learn more about the Ibiza SportCoupeSo when will we see the Ibiza SportCoupe?

We haven't quite got to the bottom of that one yet. The five-door Ibiza will have its debut at the Madrid motor show in May 2008, and the three-door definitely won't be there. There's a chance it might be a surprise for the London motor show in July 2008 - otherwise it's quite a lengthy wait for the Paris show in September 2008.

Will the Ibiza three-door have the fireworks to match the looks?

Possibly. We know that the Spaniards are working on a 1.4 TSI version that shares the VW Twincharger engine. It's great in our 168bhp long-term Golf - using a supercharger to boost torque at low speeds and then switching seamlessly to a turbo at higher engine speeds for mid-range grunt. It should make a small supermini like the Ibiza really fly.

Making all this possible is VW's new Polo family architecture. It's the first time that Seat has been the lead brand in the Volkswagen empire - it is able to use the latest modular system for small cars ahead of the next-generation Polo or Fabia.

In practice, this means that the Ibiza has a tranche of gadgets not normally seen on superminis: there is a seven-speed DSG twin-clutch gearbox, lights that peer around corners and a hill-holder function.

It also - inevitably - means Seat's new baby is a bit of whopper. The new Ibiza is 4050mm long, compared with its predecessor's 3970mm. Gone are the days when a supermini had to measure less than four metres...

Click 'Next' to find out why Seat is back in profitSeat making money? I thought they were in the red?

CAR has noted Seat's woes in the past, but the company is indeed turning the corner. It recently announced a net profit of €170 million and claims its turnaround plan is a year ahead of schedule. Post-tax profits jumped by an impressive €219m compared with 2006's losses.

Why is it making money? Well, sales are up, rising a modest 0.4 percent in a tough market to 431,000. There's still some way to go before it hits its target of 800,000 cars by the middle of the next decade, however - even with the addition of a new Mondeo rival and 4x4.

The boss speaks

Chief exec Erich Schmitt said: 'Our strategy for the next ten years aims at selling more than 800,000 cars per year, gaining a return on investment of 15 percent, gaining leadership in design and quality in our model segments and becoming Spain’s most attractive employer.'

Spoken like a true ex-Audi boss.

Does Seat have a rosy future? Or just another example of VW's messed-up brand strategy? Click 'Add your comment' and fire away

By Tim Pollard

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

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