By Ronan Glon
Sunday, Apr 22nd, 2012 @ 9:00 am
 
About a year ago, Volkswagen-owned SEAT announced that it was going to officially enter the Chinese market for the first time in its history.

SEAT is virtually unknown in China, so in an effort to build up a brand image, it will debut a performance-oriented concept called the Ibiza Cupra in Beijing tomorrow.

The Ibiza Cupra is the latest in a long line of SEAT-badged hot hatches. It is based on the redesigned fifth-generation Ibiza hatchback that was launched last month at the Geneva Motor Show.

The hot-rodded Cupra is distinguishable from more run-of-the-mill (and often TDI-powered) models by its aggressive front bumper and its sportier grille. Fog lights come standard, and a model-specific Cupra badge is mounted on the grille.

The rear bumper is also unique to the Cupra model. It features an air diffuser that incorporates a chromed trapezoidal exhaust pipe.

The car sits on 17-inch alloy wheels that are mounted on low-profile tires.

One of the most important differences between the standard Ibiza and the Cupra model is not visible to the naked eye. The Cupra rides on a track-tuned Cupra chassis, which provides a sportier driving experience.

The Cupra's interior is roughly the same as the one that is found in less powerful models, but it is fitted with a different steering wheel, bucket seats, and gauges that are said to be easier to read.

A five-inch touch screen mounted on the dash serves as a GPS unit, a hands-free phone device, and an on-board computer. It is fully integrated into the car's electronics, but it can be removed for mobile use.

A Volkswagen-sourced 1.4-liter TSI four-cylinder engine is bolted under the Cupra's hood. It features both a turbocharger and a supercharger and it is rated at 180 horsepower and 184 foot-pounds of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via a seven-speed DSG transmission that can be controlled with shift paddles mounted behind the steering wheel. The Cupra is also equipped with an electronic locking differential, and beefier brakes.

The Ibiza Cupra takes 7.2 seconds to hit 62 miles per hour from a stop, and goes on to a top speed of 140 miles per hour.

Although SEAT calls the Ibiza Cupra a concept, the car is essentially ready for production and it is scheduled to arrive in showrooms across Europe next summer.