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Ford Fiesta ST and Seat Ibiza Cupra in driving fun comparison

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Ford Fiesta ST versus Seat Ibiza Cupra
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F for the racer red Fiesta ST here on the left the omens are pretty bad in this comparison. If you read these lines, he's already three years under his belt. Seat only presented the revised Ibiza Cupra a few weeks ago. The 1.8 liter TFSI engine adopted from the VW Polo GTI develops a full 192 hp. The predecessor was the 1.4 TSI with the rather rumbling 'First the compressor howls, then the turbo hisses' -charging and 180 PS installed. Seat upsizes the wild Ibiza against the questionable downsizing trend. Nice.

The Ford has to get by with less - in every respect: A 1.6 liter four-cylinder hums in it. It sends 182 hp to the front axle. In the torque duel, the Fiesta has to be content with 240 Nm, the Ibiza clearly trumps it in this discipline - by 80 Nm. As I said: bad omens for the Fiesta - at least on paper. This is where the Ibiza Cupra secures itself a head start, if you can even call it that in theory.

Seat Ibiza Cupra now with the necessary overtaking prestige

In addition, the designers succeeded in to draw something nasty in his eyes on the second smallest seat. Much like the actors Jack Nicholson or Christopher Walken. The Cupra looks a bit crazy with its angular face with LED spikes, the open snout and piercing xenon glasses.

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Visually, both small cars dress in sporty robes.

It even seems To instill respect for larger predators on the autobahn: never before have they given way to a small car that is stuck so quickly. Amazing. Happened at the fiestanot that often - it lacks the angular face just like the xenon headlights, which are neither available for money nor beautiful eyes. Apart from this small flaw that is certainly not decisive for purchase, the very sporty dressed Ford knows how to convince with its dress. Front and back he wears aggressive, deeply cut aprons, on the roof a spoiler stretched far over the rear window. The gray 17-inch rims with a diamond-shaped hole pattern are part of the 'Performance Package I', as are the brake calipers painted in red and the door sill trims that are brightly colored in the same color. Schnieker Schnickschnack.

Once you hop into the interior with the grabbing Recaros, you feel well integrated in the Fiesta, the steering wheel can be pulled out far enough, the seating position is a bit high, but both mini hatchbacks are just exactly that: hatchbacks. You crouch there differently than in a Lotus Elise. And the ambience is less focused, more comfortable and more suitable for everyday use. However, the little Ford can't keep up with the Seat when it comes to quality. His infotainment system is covered with buttons like a mixer in the village of Disse, the screen has as low a resolution as a Gameboy and is also about the same size.

Where is the ESP button?

Quite different to the Ibiza, whose pulpit is boring in color and too German, sorry, efficient to use, but simply works. Seat, of course, stole the technology from corporate dad VW, but why not? Or who fondly remembers Seat creations in the early 1990s? There is also one problem with the Ibiza Cupra, or wait, actually there are two. On the one hand, the steering wheel is flattened at the bottom - it doesn't really make sense, reaching around is strange, and it doesn't look sporty either.

The other problem - and one that is likely to bother sports drivers in particular - is the ESP button that cannot be found at all. Only after carefully studying the countless menus in the infotainment system do you discover the option of switching the ESP to sport mode behind all the average fuel consumption. The sport mode! Turn off completely? Nope. This is only possible with the Fiesta ST, simply by pressing the 'ESC off' button behind the gear stick. Like the Seat, the Ford also offers an ESP sport mode.

The Ford Fiesta ST is left behind in the sprint duel

Interesting: Both test subjects are started by turning the ignition key, an almost forgotten procedure in the age of the start-stop button. Matching this, the two line up with a six-speed manual gearbox, there is no automatic transmission option. Nice, especially because the gear stick in the Ibiza can be pushed wonderfully from alley to alley. Anyone who stirs the gearbox here has apparently only been driving automatic for months. The good, slippery Fiesta gearbox doesn't compete with the Seat box either. The switching paths are inToo long compared. But that's certainly not the reason why the Fiesta loses almost a whole second in the sprint to the Ibiza Cupra.

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The Spaniard scores with thick 192 HP TFSI and the more jagged one Manual transmission.

'To blame' is the outrageously powerful Cupra TFSI, which lifts the 1,236 kilo seat from a standstill in a remarkable 6.6 seconds Accelerated 100 km /h, a tenth faster than specified by the factory. Well, the oxygen-rich air at sub-zero temperatures in Hockenheim naturally helps the turbo with this. The engine, which is very appealing for its concept, has most of its punch in the lower and medium speed range, from 1,450 rpm, 320 Nm attack the front axle - just as much as the old Audi TT 3.2 sent to all four.

The 1.8 TFSI achieves its rated output in the range of 4,300 to 6,200 tours - instinctively, however, you want to reach for the gearshift lever earlier, the pressure on the top noticeably decreases, and unfortunately the Cupra does not reward turning down like a naturally aspirated engine. This is more the domain of the Fiesta, which is 36 kilos lighter with an unladen weight of exactly 1.2 tons and only really ignites fire in the combustion chambers at 4,500 rpm. Still, the ST doesn't seem to take the whole accelerometer test that seriously. The default for the standard sprint was 6.9 seconds; After several attempts with a lot or little slip, our measuring device finally shows 7.5 seconds for the fastest run.

Both cheat on the sound

At least the Ford engine sounds better than the booming Seat , the 'R' rolls when it is turned off, but it cheats: In the footwell there is a sound actuator that functions as a kind of vibrator and transfers the acoustic vibrations into the cockpit. In the Ibiza, the so-called 'sport sound' is linked to the sport button on the right of the driver's knee, but more than a dull grumble does not reach the driver's ear. Too bad for the Ibiza. And it gets even bigger, because the Fiesta ST starts its race to catch up at this point.

When braking, the Fiesta ST does not get any points back, but is still 40 centimeters earlier than the Ibiza. What is noticeable here: The Seat needs substantial ABS assistance when decelerating. He lifts his sternwhen grabbing it, and when it comes to a standstill, lets it squeak back into the springs. Rum!

Ford Fiesta ST inspires with terrific handling

None of that happens in the Ford, it looks more stable, doesn't rattle with the anti-lock braking system and has the 'satiety' often invoked by colleague Helmreich . Nothing rattles here, Winterkorn would have said, if he hadn't abdicated. Constructing chassis, Ford has always been a little better at that. Need proof? No problem, we have prepared something: the 18-meter slalom. Here, the Seat Ibiza Cupra does well with 67.3 km /h, wafts through the cones faster than a Mazda MX-5, can be gently regulated but not tied up by the ESP, which cannot be completely switched off.

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The man from Cologne impresses with great handling and is sometimes on the road as a tricycle.

The Ford Fiesta ST is unimpressed and winds its way through the obstacle course at 69.1 km /h. He even lets a Renault M├ęgane R.S. behind. Madness! Its front axle bites into the asphalt in the slalom, delighted with its grandiose lateral guidance - even under load. Actually strange, because like Seat, Ford doesn't install a mechanical differential lock. Both simulate this function only with brake interventions, Ford calls its system Torque Vectoring Control. And it works so well that if you were not in the know you would bet a lot of money on the fact that a limited-slip differential in the Fiesta ST divides the power between the driven front wheels - as is optional with the competitor Opel Corsa OPC. Certainly but not particularly agile

The electronic differential lock XDS tries the same thing on the Seat, but is less successful. This was already evident to some extent in the slalom: There the Ibiza pushes over the front wheels when the pace is too motivated, and with its Bridgestone Potenza S001 tires it has little grip. The fact that the Fiesta does so much better there has little to do with the tires - it too has Bridgestone tires, narrower and with a different specification from the RE050A type. The rear axle always stays in on the Ibiza Cuprathe track, that is safe, but not particularly agile.

The Fiesta does it better, it lets its rear end hang out during provoked load changes, catch it loosely on the racetrack and pull it straight again with a lot of gas. Of course, in order to be quick, you don't have to overdo it. But thanks to the aggressively seasoned front axle, the little Fiesta unabashedly lifts the right rear wheel in the turn-in zone of the Hockenheimer ant curve, can handle the gas again much earlier than the Seat Ibiza Cupra, and then doesn't scramble towards the meadow, but rather stays with two wheels on the asphalt , the other two touch the notch.

Nothing to get for the Cupra on the racetrack

With the Seat Ibiza Cupra you shouldn't brake too late on the one hand, the front axle won't make it, to build up enough adhesion. On the other hand, you have to accelerate gently and with feeling when exiting a curve. On the straight sections, the Seat draws in on the Fiesta ST, which acts one level higher in transverse dynamics. Nevertheless, on its fastest lap, the Ford crossed the finish line a full second earlier than the Cupra. 1.19.1 minutes to 1.20.1. But: Actually, a 1.19 time would also be possible in the Cupra, test driver Uwe Sener was well on the way to it.

But after nibbling off almost four tenths of the 1.20 time in the first corners, something happened when braking on the undulating section after the quick left bend in the crossbar that we often see in vehicles from the VW group: Suddenly the ABS released the brake. We don't know exactly what went wrong. Maybe the waves are the cause, maybe the strong steering impulse during the braking phase, maybe the combination of both.

In any case, the deceleration rate sank to a meager 6.2 meters per second - felt even less. If this happens on stretches with less exercise than in Hockenheim, the excursion is over faster than you can say 'wall'. With the Ford, the ABS only comes out of step for a short time when braking in the depression, it ignores bumps that follow one another in quick succession with a constant firm grip. The Seat has to live with more bad news: it drives more relaxed, more efficient and more comfortable in everyday life, but uninhibited driving pleasure like in the Fiesta never comes up with it - despite the good engine. Plus: The lively Ford Fiesta ST costs over 2,500 euros less. And he simply didn't give a damn about the bad omens.

Technology check: ABS problem

At the beginning we checked off individual cases, but we now know that many of the Volkswagen Group's cars are large Have problems with the ABS control on the racetrack. In the comparison test of four compact cars in the 1/2014 issue, the phenomenon was particularly frequented: Audi, VW and Seat braked in Hockenheim with rough ABS control when turning in to a below-average rate. The poor braking effect washighly dangerous in places.

The same happened to the Seat Leon Cupra 280, the expensive Audi S3 and now the Seat Ibiza Cupra. It is clear that testing a car like the Ibiza on the racetrack is an extreme situation that rarely occurs. Nevertheless, the systems from other manufacturers function largely without such difficulties. This is a homemade problem, the modular system is partly to blame, just like the cost-saving constraints that go with it. There is definitely a need for improvement here, dear VW engineers!

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