It’s a big improvement on the old car, that’s for sure. The 1.8 motor has a broad, fairly continuous plateau of torque that’s easy to surf around on for snappy pace and predictable response.
The Cupra doesn’t feel dramatically fast - the fairly muted exhaust note is a little short of drama, too - but this engine has got usefully more brute force to it than its predecessor and balances a happy medium between really vigorous pace and a low enough power output that you can wring it out thoroughly even on awkward roads. That manual six-speed gearbox comes with a shift light and all the extra involvement you’d expect of a three-pedal hot hatch.
The tweaked suspension and new two-phase dampers do good things. High-frequency bumps and creases are managed without fluster in normal mode, and most drivers wanting something with this level of grit will forgive the fairly firm damper compression over high-speed undulations. It’s safe to say that it’ll be one of the more comfortable cars in this class for the daily grind.
The steering also has two weights, although neither provides much feedback; it’s perfectly precise and easy to use, and the weight is judged well enough in both modes to give you confidence even in hard use, but it never feels particularly connected or feelsome in the way that the steering in a Fiesta ST does.
The brakes have been uprated on the new Cupra, too. They’re really effective, with a fair amount of feel through the pedal and great stopping power. Red calipers are a nice touch, too.
Unfortunately the interior is drab-looking, with little variety to the texture and material finish other than the gloss surround to the vents. Still, while it feels more durable than classy, it is a dash that’s easy to use and the seats are supportive and comfortable even over long distances.
The optional, full infotainment system we tried has just about every feature you could want, although you don’t need to have particularly fat fingers to find it hard to hit some of the small icons on the touchscreen.
There isn’t all that much space in the back – tall adults will feel hemmed in – but kids or shorter adults will be fine. That’s likely to be all that’s expected of the Ibiza Cupra, though, which is only available in three-door SC guise.