First Drive: Seat Ibiza

Reviews

What’s new?

Seat’s Ibiza has done a sterling job of bringing buyers into the brand in what is a cut-throat sector of the market. It’s also managed to look youthful and sharp despite having been around since 2008. Now it’s time for the Ibiza’s second facelift however, and it’s on the receiving end of plenty of new kit.

The outside gets a mild makeover while inside there’s new materials and a resculpted dashboard which help up the quality feel alongside greater personalisation options and increased technology. There’s also some new engines to choose from and tweaked suspension aimed at improving the ride quality.

Looks and image

It’s a sign of confidence from Seat that they have chosen to change so little of the Ibiza’s exterior. Compared to the 2012 model the exterior is distinguished only by LED daytime running lights, LED tail lights and some new alloy wheel options, but otherwise it’s the same attractive shape. It’s the bold lines that make it stand out from its more conservative rivals and it’s still the best looking car in the class, which no doubt helps its youthful image.

Space and practicality

Small cars certainly aren’t as small as they used to be but the Ibiza strikes a good balance between a compact exterior and a cabin that is usefully sized. In the front there’s a good driving position, legroom and headroom are good enough even for taller folk and it’s not a narrow cabin either. In the back it’s fine for kids and you can squeeze adults in there too, but three across the back requires a degree of intimacy. Boot space remains at 292 litres which isn’t the outright biggest in the class but it’s a good shape and can cope with reasonable demands.

Behind the wheel

The pick of the new engine line up is 1.0-litre three cylinder, which is now available in turbocharged form with two power outputs, but the larger 1.2 TFSI tested here is still an excellent device even in the lower 90PS form. Quiet and torquey, it behaves much like a larger capacity engine and there’s very little to betray the fact that it is turbocharged. It delivers some impressive numbers too; 0-62mph in 10.7 seconds and 57.6mpg combined too.

Elsewhere the Ibiza switches to electric power steering, and while that does mean the steering is light and a little less feelsome than before it only takes one corner to realise it is pleasingly accurate and makes it a fun car to drive. The retuned suspension smoothes out bigger road imperfections well also.

In this Connect model you get the full infotainment experience with Apple Car Play or MirrorLink depending on your choice of smartphone, which seamlessly displays a select number of your phone apps on screen. The upgraded speaker system for a modest £155 is a worthwhile investment too.

Value for money

Even though the Connect model isn’t at the top of the Ibiza tree it’s still generously equipped. The key element is the five-inch infotainment system including navigation and DAB, but there’s also 16-inch alloy wheels, aluminium sill trims and tasteful cloth seating. All Ibizas get air conditioning, a version of the touchscreen, a USB port, Bluetooth and air conditioning too.

Who would buy one?

The Ibiza is an ideal car for the younger generation with its impressive kit list and smart exterior, but its appeal is much broader than that. It’s a cinch to drive and is a doddle park so it would suit older folks too, and there’s enough space in the rear for two children in comfort. The other big plus point is the range of very frugal petrol engines, some of which manage to break the crucial 100g/km barrier.

This car summed up in a single word: Balearic

If this car was a…: drink it would be a mojito; sharp and tasty.

FACTS AT A GLANCE

Seat Ibiza Connect 1.2 TSI 90PS 5-door, £14,620

Engine:1.2-litre unit producing 89bhp and 118lb/ft of torque

Transmission: Five-speed manual gearbox driving the front wheels

Performance: Top speed 114mph, 0-62mph in 10.7seconds

Economy: 57.6mpg combined

Emissions: 116g/km of CO2

Seat

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