SEAT used the British Motor Show this week as a platform to display the SEAT Ibiza Cupra R, the first series production model developed by the brand's motorsport department, SEAT Sport. This latest product reflects the new course set by SEAT Sport and underlines the youthful and sporting elan of the Spanish brand, reflected in its new claim, 'SEAT auto emoción'.

Experience gained over six years' top level competition in world rallies - during which time three titles in the 2-litre category were won with the Ibiza Kit Car, and the Córdoba World Rally Car gained a place on the podium on several occasions - is now being passed on directly to SEAT customers, through a range of exclusive high performance products.

The new Ibiza is equipped with the 1.8 20V Turbo engine developing 180 bhp, coupled to a five-speed gearbox. This thrusts the Cupra R from 0 to 100 km/h (0-62 mph) in less than 7.2 seconds, and gives it a top speed of over 220 km/h (140 mph).

Production of the new Ibiza Cupra R will begin this autumn, and manufacture will be shared between the Martorell plant and SEAT Sport facilities. Just 200 units of this exclusive model will be sold in the main European countries.

The fastest and most powerful Ibiza

One of the great attractions of this model is its 1.8 20V Turbo engine producing 180 bhp (132 kW). This Ibiza is the fastest and most powerful front-wheel drive model of its class, and can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in just 7.2 seconds.

The combination of this powerful engine with a specific output of over 100 bhp per litre cylinder capacity, and the Ibiza body result in a weight to power ratio of only 6.2 kg / bhp. A top speed of 225 km/h (140 mph) and acceleration to one kilometre from a standing start in 28.3 seconds are proof of the excellent performance of the model.

Another feature of this outstanding engine is its flexibility, derived from a maximum torque of 235 Nm available from 2100 to 5000 rpm, affording superb recovery across the whole range. Acceleration from 60 km/h in 5th gear is impressive, propelling the vehicle to 100 km/h in just 10.0 seconds. Likewise, when recovering in 5th gear from 80 km/h, it takes the same time to reach 120 km/h.

A delightful chassis

Another strong point of the Ibiza Cupra R is the frame, which has been specially developed by SEAT Sport technicians and includes modifications on both axles, the wheels and braking system.

The suspension has been given a new spring-damper assembly set 10% firmer than on the existing version of the Ibiza Cupra. The body has also been lowered 7 mm, and the track on both axles widened by 6 mm.

The braking system installed in the model is a direct legacy of competition. It is equipped with air-cooled 305 mm diameter disc brakes with 4 piston Brembo calipers on the front axle, and ample 232 mm diameter rear disc brakes. These bring the vehicle to a halt from 120 km/h (75 mph) in a mere 38.5 metres.

The wheels are wider and, as with the SEAT competition models, they are fitted with Pirelli tyres, in this case the PZERO type, size 205/45 ZR16, on O.Z Racing 7J x 16" alloy wheels customised by SEAT Sport.

This array of features endows the Ibiza Cupra R with high-speed cornering capability, a nimble performance and a quick and above all reliable response to all the driver's needs. In tight situations, the ESP (electronic stability programme) is a priceless asset. Anyone wishing to drive without the aid of electronic systems such as ESP and TCS can disconnect them at the push of a button on the fascia.

In addition to its high degree of active safety, the Ibiza Cupra R is fitted with driver and passenger airbags and side airbags at the front.

A limited release: just 200 lucky owners

Only 200 lucky people will be able to enjoy this exclusive model, production of which is to begin this autumn. As distinctive features, this Ibiza from SEAT Sport will, in addition to the exclusive set of wider alloy wheels and tyres, be fitted with body-colour bumper mouldings and unique external identifiers: a red letter 'R' (for Racing) on the radiator grille and on the rear tailgate, and the name Ibiza located centrally on the rear tailgate below the SEAT logo.

On the inside, the sports seats are leather and cloth covered, with the SEAT Sport logo woven into the seat back. The seat belts are now red, as is the stitching of the leather steering wheel glove, the handbrake grip and the gear lever cover.

The 'R' appears again at the bottom of the central console to identify the model, and there are two extra dials, the oil thermometer and the voltmeter.

Top specification

Standard equipment on the new Ibiza Cupra R is comprehensive. The model includes Autoclima (air conditioning and electronic temperature control), driver and front seat passenger airbags, side airbags at the front, ABS with TCS (Traction Control System) and ESP (Electronic Stability Programme), electric front windows, remote control central locking, space intrusion alarm, 8-speaker radio system and CD loader pre-installation in the boot.

The only options are a 6 CD loader in the boot and a choice of red, yellow or black for the body colour of this exclusive model.