Scroll down to read a review or watch my video!
The SEAT Ibiza has good small car provenance sharing much of its underpinnings with the Volkswagen Polo and Skoda Fabia – but the Ibiza could be the perfect antidote to its more reserved stablemates.
For a start, the Ibiza is a bit of a looker and holds the stance of a larger, sportier hatchback on the road. It’s all curves in the right places and even as a practical five door, it has a lot of character. New customisation options have been added to further enhance the Ibiza’s appeal and my test car looked great in dramatic Alor Blue with contrasting white covers on the door mirrors and a white strip around the grille.
Inside the main focus has been on upgrading the materials and infotainment. The cabin has more of a modern, youthful vibe when compared to its VW Group sister cars, with a driver-focused centre console, big, circular air vents, and simple dials with sporty italicised numbers. Connectivity is now bang up to date with the addition of a touchscreen infotainment system to the centre of the dash on all models and the option of adding a Mirror Link, Apple Car Play and Android Auto package for easy integration with smartphones and access to apps.
Cabin space is about average for a car of this size but rear legroom is not the most generous in the class and some rivals do it better. There is choice in terms of body styles so a 3-door Sport Coupé kicks off the range at €13,595, the 5-door hatchback tested here starts at €14,295 and an Ibiza ST (estate) starts at €15,235. The boot space is the same in the 3 and 5-door models (292 litres), but go for the estate and that’s boosted to 430 litres!
There’s a new steering system for the Ibiza and SEAT has also reworked the suspension to improve comfort. The steering is well-weighted and the Ibiza feels quick and willing to change direction, with good body control through the corners should you want to take things a little swifter. The suspension does a good job of cossetting you from the worst of the bumps and imperfections in the road surface; the Ibiza is less successful at disguising quite a bit of wind and road noise at high speeds. It doesn’t have quite the same level of big car comfort and refinement as the Volkswagen Polo. The Polo is truly exceptional in this regard. The Ibiza is cheaper and still a genuinely sweet car to drive.
SEAT has overhauled the engine line-up for the Ibiza with the addition of some new, cleaner engines. My test car had a 1.0-litre 75bhp petrol engine that’s new to the range and borrowed from the SEAT Mii city car and some other VW Group products. It does the job and it’s smooth to drive, but out of town it feels a bit flat in the higher gears. In terms of economy, it will return up to 54mpg, while motor tax costs €200 per year.
If it’s performance you’re after you’ll be wanting one of the 1.2 turbo petrols (90 or 110bhp), but availability is limited to the top level FR trim. For the best economy, there’s a new 1.4 diesel with 75bhp, returning up to 78mpg. A higher powered diesel (90bhp) is available on FR trim.
There are four trim levels: S, SE, Sport and FR. The five door range in S trim starts at €14,295 and standard equipment includes front electric windows and mirrors, Bluetooth and a 5” touchscreen. The SE five door range starts at €15,420 and adds additional 15” alloy wheels, trip computer and front fog lights. Five door Sport models start at €16,960 and have 16” alloys, air con, LED DRLs and leather trimmed steering wheel, and this trim also opens up the option of adding custom packs to the interior and exterior. Top spec FR trim starts at €18,910 for a five door and introduces more powerful engines, along with sporty updates to the interior and interior.
The Ibiza has the stoicness and robust feel to it of its VW Group sister cars, yet rather than just feeling like a slightly cheaper imitation, there is enough Latin soul flowing through the Ibiza for it to be a car that can stand tall in the segment on its own terms.
Depending on needs and budget, the engine line-up covers all bases and on the road the Ibiza is a sweet car to drive with nicely weighted steering and good body control through the bends. The interior is not the last word in luxury or refinement but it’s well-made, easy to navigate and the addition of the touchscreen infotainment on all models brings it up to date.
The SEAT Ibiza gets the thumbs up because it’s just so effortlessly cool. The Ibiza is the small car you desire for its edgy styling and fun, sporty image. It’s not without its faults but just like the cool kid at school, you want to hang out with it and hope that some of its glow will rub off on you just by association. It’s a well-built small car that can hold its own out on the road and this recent round of updates means that the Ibiza demands a whirl if you’re looking for a trendy and good value small car.
Model tested: Seat Ibiza Sport 5-door
Price: €16,960 (Range starts at €13,595)
Engine: 1.0-litre, three cylinder petrol
0-100km/h: 14.3 seconds
Motor Tax: €200 per year