New Ibiza gives the Fiesta a real run for its money
- Sharp styling
- Practical interior
- Lots of kit
- Great to drive
- Interior quality
- Top-spec cars pricey
- Need to wait for more engines
- No more SC or ST
Since it was first launched in the UK in 1984, 5.4 million SEAT Ibizas have found homes around the world, and it’s the Spanish brand’s biggest-selling model.
Enter the fifth-generation SEAT Ibiza, based on the VW Group’s all-new small car platform called MQB A0, which will also underpin new versions of the Volkswagen Polo and Audi A1, as well as the SEAT Arona crossover.
Youthful style but still practical
SEAT customers are overwhelmingly younger than other supermini buyers (by about 10 years according to the brand), and it’s easy to see why with sharp design, neat proportions and eye-catching design details.
The Ibiza looks like a shrunken Leon, and that’s certainly no bad thing, with sharp creases around its body work and distinctive LED lights featuring on some models. We think it’s one of the finest-looking superminis out there.
That doesn’t mean practicality has been ignored – quite the opposite. This fifth-gen Ibiza is now only available in a five-door body style. Demand has fallen for three-door superminis, so the Ibiza SC has been dropped from the range. It’s the same story for small estate cars; the ST estate has gone in favour of the Arona.
In fact, this Ibiza is 2mm shorter than the car it has replaced, but SEAT boasts it has more interior space and boot room than ever thanks to a 60mm increase in the wheelbase. This translates to enough space for four adults to fit comfortably, as well as their luggage in a boot that’s 63 litres larger than it was previously.
The interior design is more restrained than the outside, but it’s functional and very easy to get used to even after a short period of time spent behind the wheel. Interior quality trails some of its rivals, but it feels like it’ll last, plus it comes with a host of equipment that will appeal to those who love gadgets.
Frugal engine range
Buyers are well-catered for in terms of engines, with familiar 1.0-litre three-cylinder units available in a choice of 75, 95 and 115hp forms. The latter two are turbocharged, while a hotter 150hp 1.5-litre TSI petrol is also available.
Strong economy is par for the course with all models returning over 50mpg, with low CO2 emissions across the board.
Diesels will be available further down the line, which will no doubt appeal to company car drivers or those travelling longer distances on a regular basis.
For most though, petrol power will be in favour, especially around town. They’re nippy and frugal, yet also refined, with slick manual gearboxes standard on all models, with a DSG automatic available on the 115hp 1.0 TSI.
On the move, the Ibiza manages to blend driving fun and comfort very well indeed. It’s as at home on a tight, twisty road as it is in the outside lane of the motorway.
Comprehensive trim line-up
A familiar set of models make up the Ibiza range, kicking off with S and moving up through SE (the expected best-seller), sporty FR and more luxurious XCellence at the top of the range.
All models come with a generous amount of equipment – although S will be a bit too sparse for some – and SEAT launched the Ibiza with some attractive finance deals to entice customers, including a free insurance offer on some models.
While SE-spec will be a bulk-seller, FR trim is particularly attractive with more aggressive looks that suit the Ibiza’s youthful character.
The Parkers Verdict
The SEAT Ibiza has grown up. It looks fantastic, has a well-specified interior with genuine space for four, plus a comprehensive selection of frugal yet nippy engines to choose from. What’s more, it’s keenly priced and offers one of the best drives in the supermini class - no longer does the Ford Fiesta have it sewn up. Read on for the full Parkers SEAT Ibiza review to see how it matches up to the class leader.