What is the SEAT Ibiza?
Despite being a brand that few Britons had heard of less than four decades ago, the SEAT Ibiza has become the Spanish marque’s most popular model – and deservedly so. It's closely related to the Volkswagen Polo and Audi A1, and once the next-generation Skoda Fabia hits the roads, it will be the same case for the Czech supermini.
SEAT Has always pitched the Ibiza right in the supermini heartland and it’s no different for the Mk5 Ibiza, making life hard for the Ford Fiesta, Peugeot 208, Renault Clio and Volkswagen Polo among several other possibilities. The current version is so good, we awarded it with Best First Car in the 2018 Parkers new car awards, a title it held on to in the 2019 list. So, clearly we like the Ibiza.
- Top speed: 104-121mph
- 0-62mph: 9.0-14.2 seconds
- Fuel economy: 56-74mpg
- Emissions: 99-112g/km of CO2
- Boot space: 355-823* litres
Which versions of the SEAT Ibiza are available?
As with many of its competitors – and with the Volkswagen Polo it shares its underpinnings with – the Mk5 Ibiza is only available as a five-door hatchback. Three-door models have dwindled in popularity and the short-lived previous-generation Ibiza ST was a victim of the fact few buyers want a small estate.
Known by insiders as the Typ 6J Ibiza, the SEAT supermini also forms the basis of its SUV cousin, the Arona, not that the latter is much taller or especially rugged as an example of its genre.
So far we’ve not seen an out-and-out performance version of the current Ibiza, with the lukewarm FR trim level filling the sporty brief, for now at least. Other trim levels are SE and Xcellence, with additional packs available of bundled options also available, called Technology, Lux and Sport.
Despite being launched in 2017, SEAT’s kept the engine range fairly narrow so far: non-turbo (80hp) and turbo (95hp-115hp) petrol engines are all three-cylinder 1.0-litre units, while the 80hp and 95hp diesels are four-cylinder 1.6-litre motors.
What is the SEAT Ibiza Cupra?
Since 1997, mid-way through the Mk2’s lifecycle, the hottest versions in the range have been badged SEAT Ibiza Cupra. Until that point the GTi name had been applied to the quickest models. For the Mk4 Ibiza, the Cupra trim was only available with the three-door SC bodystyle, with a range topped by the limited edition Cupra Bocanegra – Spanish for ‘black mouth’ – with the nose of the car painted said colour.
Will there be a Cupra version of the Mk5 Ibiza? Yes, it’s highly likely there will be, but not badged as a SEAT. Starting with the quickest version of the Ateca SUV, the trim level has now been turned into a brand itself, meaning the forthcoming production car will be titled Cupra Ibiza.
SEAT Ibiza styling and engineering
While the Mk5 Ibiza shares all of its underpinnings and mechanical components with the VW Polo (the pair have been linked this way since the 1993 Mk2), the two superminis don’t look remotely alike. SEAT rather cleverly has imbued its five-door-only Ibiza with many of the sharper styling elements found on its predecessor’s three-door SC body, making it look sportier than the more upright Polo.
Under the skin, the cars are similar, but changes to the Ibiza's suspension set-up mean it's a sportier drive, while inside, although much of the tech is shared, clever styling changes give them very different characters. And that's why the Ibiza has such a youthful appeal…
There are roomier superminis out there, but that’s not to say that the Ibiza’s cramped and the cabin – at last! – is rather good to look at, even though the plastics used for the dashboard and other mouldings are hard and unyielding.
Is the SEAT Ibiza good to drive?
Firmer in its ride quality than its Polo sister car, but not uncomfortably so, the Ibiza typifies SEAT’s brief of being the sportier of the Volkswagen Group’s mainstream brands. It also feels more responsive in corners, and has sharper steering – meaning it's runs the Ford Fiesta a close second as the supermini of choice for keen drivers.
Clearly on a base-spec, non-turbo 80hp model, you’re not going to be making short shrift of long cross-country journeys, but the 115hp TSI petrol is a sprightly performer that enables drivers to make the most of the Ibiza’s zesty handling, proving that you don't need huge amounts of power to have fun on B-roads and in town.
How much does the SEAT Ibiza cost?
SEATs have long been good-value propositions – that’s not to say cheap, but a sensible asking price for a fine combination of equipment and quality. In Mk5 guise, the Ibiza continues this theme.
You’ll get a good deal buying one outright, but there’s more of a bargain to be had obtaining one through a tempting personal leasing or PCP finance arrangement. Many of the Ibiza’s rivals can’t come close to matching it. In large part it was the finance that cemented the Ibiza being a two-time Parkers award winner.
Find out what SEAT Ibiza drivers think of their cars with our comprehensive owners’ reviews.
SEAT Ibiza Model History
Current generation SEAT Ibiza model history
May 2017 – New SEAT Ibiza open for order in the UK, arriving in showrooms in July. Available with a choice of 1.0 MPI 75, 1.0 TSI 95 and 115 engines, it launched with an all-petrol line-up, with a 1.6-litre TDI diesel coming later. Trim line-up consists of SE, SE Technology, FR, FR Sport, Xcellence and Xcellence Lux models.
November 2017 - Ibiza diesel introduced with 80hp or 95hp across entire trim structure. Fuel economy is a claimed 74mpg and CO2 output is 100g/km.
July 2018 - Digital cockpit introduced to Ibiza line-up.
Fourth-generation SEAT Ibiza (2008-17)
Following-on from the soft, curvy styling of its predecessor, the sharper-suited Mk4 Ibiza – or Typ 6J if you’re a fan of internal codenames – first appeared as a five-door hatchback.
SEAT’s management still felt there was a sufficient market for a three-door version, but made it lower and more athletic, calling it the Ibiza SC – for Sport Coupe. Fittingly, the performance-focused Cupra models were only produced in SC guise.
More of a surprise came in 2010 when the estate-bodied Ibiza ST arrived. It was roomy, but buyers didn’t seem convinced, especially when its sister car – the Skoda Fabia Estate – was even more spacious and cost less.
Read our user-generated fourth-generation Ibiza owners’ reviews and find examples for sale.
Third-generation SEAT Ibiza (2002-09)
Out went the Mk2 Ibiza’s crisp styling and in came the rounded ‘mini-Leon’ look of the Mk3 model – the Typ 6L. Both three- and five-door versions of the Ibiza were sold, each sharing a low look with shallow side windows relative to the tall bodywork below them.
SEAT continued to sell a more traditional four-door version, still badged Cordoba, but it wasn’t especially attractive and British sales were always slow. A full suite of petrol and diesel engines were available, with the gutsiest Cupra models packing a 20-valve 1.8-litre turbocharged petrol powerplant packing 180hp.
Discover what drivers think of their third-generation Ibizas in our owners’ reviews and look at used cars for sale.
Second-generation SEAT Ibiza (1993-02)
Larger and heavier-set than before, the Mk2 Ibiza – Typ 6K – was the first generation to be based on a Volkswagen Group, platform, sharing its underpinnings with the Mk3 Polo. Three- and five-door Ibiza Hatchbacks were the mainstay of the offering, the punchiest models initially badged GTi, before Cupra took over in 1997.
Further expansions of the range weren’t called Ibiza, but SEAT Cordoba, starting with a four-door saloon in 1994 and the Cordoba SX – a two-door sort-of coupe – following in 1996. Two years later, the Cordoba Vario (a compact estate that the later Ibiza ST essentially succeeded years later) arrived,.
All models – Ibiza and Cordoba – were facelifted in 1999, with a sharper-looking noses and a restyled tail with a much greater expanse of flatter, body-coloured metal. Are Mk2 Ibizas reliable choices? Read our owners’ reviews to find out and look for used models for sale.
First-generation SEAT Ibiza (1985-93)
Along with the long-forgotten Malaga, the Mk1 Ibiza was part of SEAT’s launch range in Britain in 1985, immediately garnering interest thanks to its fine styling – the work of reknowned Italian Giorgetto Giugiaro – and Porsche-developed engines and gearboxes.
SEAT had long produced badge-engineered Fiats assembled in Spain, but the original Ibiza – the 021A – was its first home-grown project. That said, its underpinnings weren’t all-new, for they were a shortened version of SEAT’s take on the Fiat Strada. Three-door versions were sold first – later topped by the sporty SXi – with more practical five-door examples being made available from 1986.
A late facelift was introduced somewhat late-in-the-day during 1991, adding a seemingly unnecessary degree of fussiness to the design. Considering a first-generation Ibiza? Then read our owners’ reviews.