SEAT is currently a brand on a big mission. In the last 18 months, they’ve launched their first SUV, the Qashqai rivalling SEAT Ateca, and there’s the soon-to-arrive, all-new compact Arona SUV. On top of that, the much-acclaimed SEAT Leon hatchback had a facelift in 2017 and this summer also saw the arrival of a new SEAT Ibiza supermini.

The new SEAT Ibiza has the privilege of being the first car in the Volkswagen Group to use the all-new MQB A0 platform for small cars. That’s a big boon for the Spanish brand, and with trademark sporty SEAT styling and affordable pricing, the new Ibiza could be on to something big.

And big it is. The new SEAT Ibiza has really grown up. The styling has matured and while all the curves and angles we’ve come to associate with the SEAT Ibiza are there, this wider, lower Ibiza looks better than ever. Inside, a longer wheelbase means there is more passenger space, and this is now one of the roomiest small cars out there. A 355 litre boot tops it off.

2017 SEAT Ibiza FR review ireland
The interior of the 2017 SEAT Ibiza

In terms of trim, buyers can choose from the more standard S (from €14,995) and SE (from €17,335), but for more uniqueness there is an XCELLENCE model (from €18,745) with more kit, and the sporty FR (from €19,465).

Standard equipment includes Front Assist, remote central locking and touchscreen but SE cars add 15“ alloys, front fog lights, LED DRLs, rear LED lights, air con and Bluetooth.

Xcellence adds a leather pack, cruise control, rear parking sensors, keyless entry and start, and folding electric mirrors. FR features 17“ alloys, dark tinted rear windows, SEAT Drive Profile, and sportier styling features.

My FR trim car was finished in Desire Red with optional 18” alloy wheels added and it looked very ‘desirable’ indeed.

The interior of the new SEAT Ibiza has had a thorough makeover and the previous car’s drab slab of grey plastic has been broken up with a new interior panel that is finished in gloss black in FR trim cars. A large touchscreen with glossy black surround is the focal point in the centre of the dash. The cheap looking circular air vents have been replaced by rectangular vents that look of better quality. While hard plastics still dominate and the cloth seat material looks a little cheap, overall the quality and design has stepped up in new Ibiza.

2017 SEAT Ibiza FR review ireland
SEAT Ibiza FR models are the sportiest of the range with sports suspension and styling updates

The new SEAT Ibiza is still offered with the old 1.0-litre MPI petrol with 75hp. For perkier performance buyers can choose from the new three cylinder turbo 1.0-litre TSI petrol with 95 or 115hp.  Joining later will be a new 1.5-litre TSI 150hp four cylinder turbo petrol and 1.6-litre diesels (80 and 95hp). A DSG automatic gearbox is available paired with the new 1.0-litre 115hp engine.

My test car had the new 1.0-litre TSI with 115hp and first off for a three cylinder unit it’s remarkably smooth and refined with little vibration coming through the pedals. The turbo petrol gives faultless performance with lots of in-gear punch and 0-100kmh achieved in 9.3 seconds. This unit is naturally cheap to run as well with an average consumption of 4.7l/100km and CO2 emissions of 108g/km. The Ibiza 1.0 TSI is available from €18,065 in SE trim.

On the road, the new SEAT Ibiza is smooth and agile with nicely sharp steering and well contained body roll. The car is lacking the steering feel of the Ford Fiesta that makes it the handling star of the class, but this car is pure and sharp to drive.  The FR model has a number of driving modes including a Sport mode, but these do little to alter the driving experience. The firmer suspension of FR models makes these cars noticeably firmer over changeable Irish roads than other models in the Ibiza range.

2017 SEAT Ibiza FR review ireland
The new SEAT Ibiza is one of the most practical, spacious and stylish small hatchbacks

The small car from SEAT first launched in 1984 has come a long way and while 2017 has felt like the year of the small car with numerous new models arriving here, the Ibiza is one of the best all rounders. The new SEAT Ibiza’s class leading ability boils down to the new platform, which makes this car more practical and spacious, but the drive is nigh on faultless too for a small, affordable car. The new 1.0-litre TSI is up with the best of the small turbo petrols in the segment. The SEAT Ibiza has a strong image and this new sharp suit its wearing should appeal to a variety of buyers but crucially I think we can say that the SEAT Ibiza is cool!

Model tested: SEAT Ibiza FR 1.0TSI 115hp
Price: €20,185 (Range starts €14,995)
Engine: 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Torque: 200Nm
9.3 seconds
Top speed: 195km/h
Claimed Economy: 
CO2 emissions:  
Motor tax:
€190 per year

Caroline Kidd