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Parkers overall rating: 4.6 out of 5 4.6
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Performance

4.2 out of 5 4.2
  • Three 1.0-litres petrols power most of Ibiza range
  • Warm 1.5 TSI EVO available in FR
  • Frugal diesel comes later

SEAT Ibiza performance is provided by a number of petrol engine options, with diesel coming further down the line.

Kicking the Ibiza petrol engine range off is a 1.0-litre three-cylinder pushing out 75hp and 95Nm of torque - it’s the same engine you’ll find in the smaller Mii city car. It’s likely to be favoured by those who rarely venture out of town (it goes from 0-62mph in a leisurely 14.7 seconds), and comes with a five-speed manual gearbox. Top speed is rated at 104mph.

Providing more power and performance – and expected to be the most popular engine – is a turbocharged 1.0-litre TSI with 95hp. Torque is rated at 175Nm, which is a noticeable leap over the non-turbo 1.0 MPI 75.

This engine is a punchy performer, with an eager response from the throttle and very smooth power delivery. It’s capable of reaching 62mph from a standstill in 10.9 seconds, and works really well with the slick-shifting five-speed manual gearbox.

It’s more than comfortable on the motorway, and will even pull well up slight gradients without the need to change down a couple of gears. If you find yourself on a derestricted German autobahn, it’ll go on to a top speed of 113mph.

If you want something with a bit more poke, there’s a 115hp of the same 1.0 TSI unit. This one is capable of completing the 0-62mph sprint in 9.3 seconds, and will reach a top speed of 121mph. It’s a great option for those regularly driving on the motorway as it comes with a six-speed manual gearbox instead of the usual five.

In practice, it doesn’t feel massively quicker than the 95hp engine, though, but a lot of that comes down to how refined the engines are – you don’t notice because it’s so quiet. It picks up quickly and responsively, though, and easily keeps up with faster moving traffic, thanks to 200Nm of torque available from 2,000-3,500rpm.

Gearbox options

All Ibizas come with a manual gearbox as standard and, whether it’s a five- or six-speed transmission, it’s a joy to use. The throw of the gear lever is nicely weighted and doesn’t feel overly light like many superminis have a tendency to, plus it falls easily to hand. It’s one of the sweetest manual gearboxes you’ll find in this segment, with a slick and precise action that doesn’t feel like a chore to use.

A dual-clutch DSG automatic is available on the 115hp 1.0 TSI, which we’re yet to sample. If it’s like every other car using this gearbox (it’s used throughout the VW Group), then it’ll likely be smooth and responsive and well matched to the higher-powered petrol engine.

Can I buy a diesel SEAT Ibiza?

Yes, but not just yet. What we do know, though, is that there will be a choice of 1.6-litre TDI diesels with either 80 or 95hp. It’s likely a five-speed manual gearbox will feature on both, with a DSG option on the more powerful diesel.

Which is best?

So far, we’ve driven the two 1.0-litre TSI petrols, and both are very strong and willing performers. The 95hp will suit most buyers as it’s just at home on the motorway as it is zipping around town.

The 115hp model is excellent though, and is the choice of the two if you spend a lot of time on dual carriageways and motorways. You’ll appreciate the sixth gear, allowing the Ibiza to settle down at higher speeds.

Even so, the 95hp far from struggles and is rarely vocal, plus it’s available across more of the range than the FR-only 1.0 TSI 115.

Handling

4.5 out of 5 4.5
  • Feels like a grown-up car
  • Excellent ride, but still fun
  • Steering is well-weighted

With a new Ford Fiesta recently launched, the Ibiza has a fight on its hands, as the car from the Blue Oval is incredibly accomplished when it comes to providing a fun drive that’s also compliant and relaxed when you want it to be.

The Ibiza does an excellent job though, and feels quite similar to the Fiesta when it comes to offering impressive ride comfort and tidy handling. Through a series of bends, the Ibiza feels composed with tight body control and well-weighted steering, providing enough feedback for the driver to know what’s going on beneath them.

The steering isn’t quite as communicative as a Fiesta, nor as quick to react to inputs, but this translates to a less frantic, more planted feel on the road, which will likely appeal to those looking for something with a bit more balance.

Selectable drive modes alter steering feedback and throttle response on FR models, switchable between Comfort, Eco, Sport and Individual modes.

What’s it like in town?

In reality, more Ibiza owners are going to be concerned with how easy it is to manoeuvre in town than how much fun you can have a twisty country road, and the good news is its compact dimensions lend it to very stress-free urban driving.

Visibility is good, and the steering is light enough to manoeuvre in and out of tight spaces with ease, while optional extras such as parking sensors and cameras will help this even further.

What about sportier FR models?

If you specify a sportier-looking Ibiza FR, sports suspension and larger 17-inch alloy wheels come as standard, with 18-inch wheels available at extra cost. This makes the Ibiza even sharper, allowing for a sporty, involving drive that feels more akin to a Fiesta than regular Ibizas.

The upside is that there isn’t a huge compromise in terms of ride quality, either. It still offers a well-balanced ride overall, just with slightly tauter control when you’re driving that little bit more enthusiastically.

Behind the wheel

4 out of 5 4.0
  • Dashboard is simple and user-friendly
  • Infotainment is excellent
  • Quality trails its rivals in places

Jump into the driver’s seat of the Ibiza and you notice how much more restrained it is than its exterior styling.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though, because it means it’s simple and easy to get comfortable, while all of the controls are well-sited and stress-free to use.

There is plenty of adjustment in the seat and steering wheel, and all seats are supportive and comfortable – particularly those found in FR-spec models. What surprised us was just how much thigh support there was, which is often a niggle of smaller cars with smaller seats.

Simple interior design, but it’s easy to use

There’s a full-width piece of trim across the dashboard which aims to add some interest, but it’s only on higher-spec models where this features plusher-looking materials other than grey plastic. There are a few quality question marks as well, with very few soft-touch materials found – even on top of the dash. A VW Polo this is not, but it does still feel solidly constructed and like it’ll last the life of the car.

The way the main controls in the centre of the dash are ever so slightly angled slightly towards the driver is a nice touch, though, and you feel very much like you’re sitting in the car, rather than on it. It’s a refreshing feel, and one that instantly makes you feel more involved in driving it. Even the Fiesta can’t offer this, with a loftier driving position that feels at odds with the driving experience.

Touchscreen infotainment systems are standard across the Ibiza range, all of which are slick and easy to use. Opt for FR or XCellence trim and you’re treated to a super-slick 8.0-inch colour screen that’s easy to operate, and is within easy reach of the driver.

Comfort

4.5 out of 5 4.5
  • Strong seat comfort
  • Suspension well controlled
  • Impressive sound insulation

When you first set eyes on the Ibiza, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a harsh-riding car to match its sharp looks. However, SEAT Ibiza comfort has improved significantly compared with the old car, and now provides a great compromise between sportiness and comfort.

We’ve tried the Ibiza in regular form with small alloys, higher-profile tyres and more basic seats, as well as a high-spec FR with sports suspension, upgraded 18-inch alloys and sports seats.

We’re pleased to report that comfort levels are high across the range, with few compromises made by going for the sportier version. Let’s talk about the regular car first, though.

SEAT Ibiza SE comfort

In best-selling form, the Ibiza is an accomplished performer when it comes to comfort. Despite feeling more basic inside, seat comfort impressed us with plenty of support over an extended test drive, while the combination of 16-inch alloy wheels and fatter tyres meant it soaked up harsh bumps in the road very well indeed.

It’s firmer than something like a VW Polo or Kia Rio, but never jarring and doesn’t get upset by bigger bumps. It should be a similar story for entry-level S and higher-spec XCellence trims, too.  

What about the FR?

Even if you go for the sportier set-up of FR trim, comfort levels are high. While sports suspension features, it’s not noticeably firmer and still soaks up bumps admirably. Adding 18-inch wheels to the mix means it can become slightly more unsettled, but it took a series of bumps and imperfections to even suggest the Ibiza might break a sweat.

The seats found in the Ibiza FR are particularly nice, with extra bolstering for greater support. They don’t have a short base either, which you often find in superminis. A long journey brought no discomfort whatsoever.

Is there much noise to contend with?

Not at all. Three-cylinder engines have a tendency to make themselves known in the cabin when you really rev them out, but the Ibiza remains relaxed if you do this. Sure, you can hear when it reaches higher revs, but it’s not coarse and it doesn’t upset the calm inside the cabin.

It’s a similar story with wind and road noise – with only slight blustering around the angular door mirrors at speed. The optional 18-inch alloys do kick up some extra road rumble at speed, with some road surfaces a contributing factor in this, too.

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