First Drive: Seat Ibiza ST 1.0 EcoTSI

Reviews

What’s new?

Seat’s Ibiza hatchback was turned into the even more practical ST model in 2010 and the compact load carrier won plenty of fans with its useful boot, good spec and slick dynamics. Now its received the same updates as the rest of the Ibiza range, including mild tweaks to the exterior, trim and equipment upgrades and a revised model line up.

Perhaps more importantly the Ibiza is available with some new engines, chiefly a three-cylinder 1.0-litre petrol unit in naturally aspirated and turbocharged forms. The latter looks particularly impressive on paper with the potential for strong performance as well as economy.

Looks and image

Choosing the ST over the hatchback or SC versions means sacrificing a little in ultimate style for practicality, but it’s fair to say that amongst other supermini-based load carriers the Ibiza is the pick of the bunch. As with the other bodystyles there are mild tweaks to the exterior including new front and rear lights plus a wider choice of alloy wheels and trim packs, but the key factor here is the distinctive nose and strong shoulder line that gives the Ibiza ST some real personality. That goes a long way to giving the Ibiza ST its relatively youthful image, even in this more practical guise.

Space and practicality

That estate car body brings with it some inevitable gains in terms of space. There’s an extra 138 litres of boot space with the rear seats in place, taking the total to 430. Fold the seats and it goes up to a whopping 1,164 litres, over 300 more than the hatchback in the same configuration and a lot for a car with a small footprint. In the main cabin there’s a little more headroom thanks to the longer roofline over the back seats, though taller adults will want to sit up front to take advantage of the most space on offer.

Behind the wheel

It’s taken for granted that a modern superminin is just as capable out of town and on a B-road as it is in the city, nonetheless the Ibiza ST is a satisfying small car to drive. What really sets apart this latest version however is the new 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine, tested here in 109PS Eco-TSI form.

Although the performance figures are relatively modest – top speed 119mph, 0-62mph in 10.8 seconds – it feels like a much more potent unit. It’s surprisingly quiet but still has a pleasing three-cylinder tone and is happy to lug from low revs, feeling like a much bigger unit. Yet in spite of this performance it is capable of some remarkable economy; 94g/km and 68.9mpg combined is exceptionally thrifty and all from a petrol engine, meaning cheaper prices at the pump over the long-term. This is a high-economy car without any of the usual disadvantages.

The Ibiza ST’s road manners have also been improved, with retuned suspension that helps to soak up road bumps with less fuss, without hurting the handling. The new electric power steering system helps to save fuel, and while it isn’t the most feelsome it’s light for parking and pleasingly accurate.

Value for money

All Ibizas get air conditioning, a version of the touchscreen, a USB port, Bluetooth and air conditioning, while moving up to this SE model nets additional features like chrome roof rails, LED daytime running lights, alloy wheels, leather on the steering wheel and gearknob plus the five-inch touchscreen system for your audio inputs. What’s more in this form the Ibiza ST is £14,765, good value for a well-equipped car that will potentially cost peanuts to run.

Who would buy one?

The Ibiza in ST form is an eminently sensible choice for a variety of people. Families with small children will find it a good size both inside and out, whilst those who need to carry sizeable loads but don’t want a huge estate all the time will also find it very useful. It’s not short on luxury touches and with its enthusiastic turbocharged engine can make short work of long journeys too.

This car summed up in a single word: Clever

If this car was a…: tool it would be an adjustable spanner – able to adapt to pretty much any situation.

FACTS AT A GLANCE

Seat Ibiza ST 1.0 EcoTSI SE, £14,765

Engine:1.0-litre petrol unit producing 94bhp and 118lb/ft of torque

Transmission: Five-speed gearbox driving the front wheels

Performance: Top speed 119mph, 0-62mph in 10.8 seconds

Economy: 68.9mpg combined

Emissions: 94g/km of CO2

Seat

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