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Parkers overall rating: 4.6 out of 5 4.6
  • Three 1.0-litres petrols power most of Ibiza range
  • Frugal diesel also available

2017 blue SEAT Ibiza FR front

Kicking the Ibiza petrol engine range off is a 1.0-litre three-cylinder pushing out 80hp 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 80.

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.

2017 SEAT Ibiza rear

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.

Manual and auto transmission 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. There is a 1.6-litre 95hp diesel engine available in each of the six trims. It sells in small volumes, but it's useful on the motorway and is surprisingly pokey, but the petrols are smoother.

Which is the 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.

How does it handle?

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

2017 SEAT Ibiza front cornering

With the Ford Fiesta, 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.

Blue SEAT Ibiza FR rear 2017

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.