A household name for twenty years. The CUPRA label from SEAT.

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The CUPRA performance line from SEAT has been in 2016 for exactly twenty years. The first generation saw the light of day in 1996. The previous year, the Ibiza 1.8 Group A achieved encouraging results in the World Rally Championship, prompting SEAT to develop a revolutionary model: the Ibiza Kit Car. Equipped with a 250 hp 2.0-liter engine, the model surprised the other teams in the championship. The SEAT Sport team took part in eight rallies, and after one victory (Portugal) and six podium finishes, it was crowned champion in the 2-liter class. It was the first world title for a Spanish brand, a milestone in the history of international motorsport.

Seat Ibiza Kitcar
The Ibiza Kitcar was actually the basis for the successful CUPRA label. Image: Pon / SEAT

Twin brother in front of the public highway
Along with the development of the Ibiza Kit Car, SEAT Sport also worked for months on a 'twin brother' for the public road. This 150 hp Ibiza 2.0 was the first model to bear the CUPRA emblem. The Ibiza, which was introduced in 1984, was a fitting follow-up to the SEAT 600. The Ibiza - certainly in its home country - appealed to young drivers in particular and became a popular possession among that group. SEAT decided to exploit that potential. The performance of the Ibiza 2.0 exerted great appeal to young people, or simply to sports enthusiasts. He sprinted from 8,3 to 0 km / h in 100 seconds and achieved a top speed of 216 km / h. It was a safe and reliable car under all circumstances.

True to high technology
The joint efforts of the SEAT Sport teams and the Technical Center led to more controversial models. In 2000, SEAT introduced the second version of the Ibiza CUPRA, equipped with a powerful, 156 strong 1.8 20VT engine, as a new figurehead for the Ibiza series. For the first time, the model received ESC (electronic stability control), a progressive technology for a model in that class.

The same year the CUPRA family was expanded with the SEAT Leon. It relied on four-wheel drive and an 2.8-liter V6 with which the model broke the 200 horsepower for the first time. SEAT's dedication to the CUPRA label then led to expansion into other models. In the same year, the Cordoba CUPRA 1.8 20VT also debuted with 156 pk, in an ambitious attempt to offer consumers a street version of the SEAT Cordoba WRC that competed in the top of the World Rally Championship for three years.

Exclusive hot hatch
SEAT closed the year 2000 by surprising the international media at the Birmingham Motor Show with the presentation of the 180 horsepower Ibiza CUPRA R 1.8 20VT. That was the first SEAT model to carry the letter R in its name, with which the model emphatically distinguished itself as a pure 'hot hatch'. Only 200 copies were produced, thus creating a tradition of special limited editions of the Spanish brand.

A particularly peppery SEAT was the Leon Cupra R. Image: Pon / SEAT
A particularly peppery SEAT was the Leon Cupra R. Image: Pon / SEAT

Leon Cupra R
The first Leon to be tackled by SEAT Sport was the CUPRA R in 2002. The motorsport division of the Spanish brand gave the model an 1.8 20 VT with 210 hp that delivered excellent performance under all circumstances. A year later an even stronger version with 225 pk followed.

Width project
From 2006, the Technical Center became responsible for the development of the CUPRA models, so that SEAT Sport could focus entirely on the use of cars in a competitive context. In 2002, SEAT had made its comeback in motor sport with the SEAT Leon Supercopa brand cup and recently SEAT broke the lap record for front-wheel-driven production cars twice at the Nürburgring.

Alive. Also as a young timer.
The CUPRA label is alive and well. And also in combination with the SEAT models from the nineties and the beginning of the millennium, CUPRA is a welcome addition. CUPRA editions are conquering - certainly in exceptional condition - an increasingly prominent place on the wish lists of the sporty-minded young-timer enthusiasts. The fact confirms that the sporting branch of SEAT is now rooted in a respectable and deep way within enthusiastic circles.




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