What is it?
As facelifts go, this is about as comprehensive as they come. Gone is the 1.4 turbocharged engine and dual-clutch automatic gearbox, and into this new Ibiza Cupra comes a 1.8-litre blown petrol complete with six-speed manual gearbox (familiar from the Polo GTI). There’s no automatic transmission on offer even if you wanted one.
The hot Ibiza now brakes a spinning inside wheel when appropriate, too, and comes as standard with adjustable dampers. There’s a long list of newfangled connectivity tech now available, too. The 5.0in touchscreen with Bluetooth, USB and DAB is standard, but most will opt to add the optional 6.5in screen complete with sat-nav, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
What's it like?
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.