Seat Ibiza Review: Edgy Style from Barcelona
by Sue Baker
First launched in the 1980s, the Seat Ibiza has been on the road for 33 years. Now here’s the new one, and it’s good.
A lot of things happened in 1984. George Orwell’s dire fictional predictions proved unfounded, the Ghostbusters film smashed box-office records, Michael Jackson’s Thriller album thrilled music fans, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was born. So was a new Spanish car, the Seat Ibiza.
Three decades later, and through four generations of the Barcelona-built hatchback, the Ibiza’s success is measured in the 5.4 million sold around the world. Someone has cleverly worked out that if they were parked bumper-to-bumper in a straight line, all those Ibizas would stretch non-stop from Spain to New Zealand.
Now here is the new fifth generation Ibiza, imminently arriving in Seat showrooms this month. It’s a bit of a trendsetter as the first model to be built on the Volkswagen Group’s new small car chassis, which will subsequently be the basis for the next-generation VW Polo, Skoda’s next Fabia and Audi’s next A1.
There is very tough competition for the new Ibiza from some very competent rival small cars in a similar size bracket of around four metres long – notably Ford’s latest Fiesta, but also the current Polo, Corsa and the new Nissan Micra.
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So what’s it like, Seat’s newcomer, and what’s different from the previous Ibiza? First impressions are favourable. The exterior design has been sharpened to give the car a crisper look and edgier style. It’s a smart small car, with its look lifted by some sharp wheel designs.
Inside too it’s a svelte look, although it’s a pity that the quality of the materials doesn’t quite match the standard of the aesthetics. The overall ambience is chic, but there are some cheapish-looking scratchy plastic surfaces and budget trim.
It’s all pretty user-friendly though. There are cleanly-styled dials with good clear white-on-black graphics, big air-vents across most of the upper dash, and an eight-inch infotainment and satnav screen just below at chest level. Under it is the heater-aircon control panel, set quite low down but happily accessible without having to go through layers of touchscreen views.
Interior packaging is good. The cabin doesn’t feel cramped despite the car’s relatively small size: a six-footer has very adequate headroom in any of the seats. Compared with the outgoing Ibiza, there is 35 mm of extra kneeroom in the back seats of this new one. Stowage space around the car is quite generous too.
Boot space is a strong plus. This fifth generation Ibiza has a 355-litres boot, bigger than all its key rivals: the new Micra comes closest with 300 litres, but the Fiesta has 292 litres and the Corsa and Polo each have 280 litres.
Behind the wheel
Considering that this is one of the more keenly-priced small hatchbacks, the Ibiza is at the upper-crust end amongst its peers for road manners. It’s really good to drive, pert and precise, with a firmish ride comfort and agile handling.
Steering feel is informative, and refinement is pretty reasonable. Wind noise is very subdued, road rumble is evident but not excessive, and the test car’s engine noise is not particularly obtrusive.
Engine choice is between three petrol motors: a four-cylinder 1.5 litre and two three-cylinder one-litres, with either 94 or 113 bhp. It’s the 999cc, 94 bhp version that’s expected to be the big seller, and that is the one we tested. It’s lively for its size and probably the optimum choice unless you regularly fill all the car’s seats and give it a load to haul about.
Prices start from 13,130. The Ibiza comes with six airbags, and tech features include adaptive cruise control, front safety assist, rear view camera and driver tiredness detection and alert. The car has a five star Euro NCAP crash test safety rating. Trim levels are S, SE, FR and Xcellence.
Seat Ibiza Stats Review
Model tested: Ibiza SE Technology 1.0 TSI
Top speed: 113 mph
0-62 mph: 10.9 secs
Economy: 60.1 mpg
CO2: 106 g/km
Images: Sue Baker
December 08, 2017
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