Expert Reviews

First Drive: Seat Ibiza

Friday 07 April 2017

First Drive: Seat Ibiza

As Seat’s best-selling car of all time – with more than 5.4 million examples sold worldwide – the new Ibiza has a huge reputation to live up to. To ensure it remains competitive, the Spanish manufacturer has given the supermini plenty of technology – and it’s now only offered as a five-door.

It’s also the first car in the Volkswagen Group to the make use of the new MQB A0 platform. This means that the B-segment car gets a lot more space than its footprint would lead you to believe.

Looks & Image

In terms of the design, the new fifth-generation is a more gradual evolution on the styling of the vehicle that it replaces. It’s got a more grown-up appearance, that’s for sure, but it would be a bit of an exaggeration to say that it’s hugely different from the old model.

As is so key to VW Group vehicles, build quality is solid throughout and, while the cabin isn’t particularly exciting, all of the key controls are simple and easy to use. It features a new eight-inch touchscreen system too, while top-level cars benefit from a BeatsAudio system too – a feature which will win favour with those in search of top-end sound. 

The only negative about the Ibiza’s interior is the seating position. While the driving position itself isn’t too bad, the base of the seat is tilted up slightly giving a strange overall position. Even with a reasonable amount of adjustment it’s still tricky to find a comfortable seating arrangement.

Space & Practicality

At launch, Seat will offer the Ibiza with three different petrol engines with varying power outputs. The range starts with a 1.0-litre MPI unit developing 74bhp, while a turbocharged 1.0-litre unit is also available with either 94bhp or 113bhp.

Our test car was fitted with the top-spec 1.5-litre EVO engine, which puts out a respectable 148bhp. It’s a refined engine, and does a good job of getting the Ibiza up to speed with very few issues.

Seat is also set to introduce a 1.6-litre diesel engine later on in the year, though as is predominately the case in this segment this unit is unlikely to be as popular as the petrol engines.

Behind the Wheel

Despite lacking a touch in character, there’s no denying that the Ibiza is a capable little car. Its on-road manners were impressive for a car of this size, and the steering – though rather light and lacking in feedback – has plenty of responsiveness and allows you to drive the car with plenty of poise. Through the tighter bends of our test route, it always felt planted and composed – even at higher speeds.

Value for Money

There’s going to be five different trim levels offered in the UK – S, SE, SE Technology, FR and XCellence. Prices for superminis start at £13,130, rising to £17,310 for the top-spec excellence models. That said, prices are yet to be announced for the sporty FR models fitted with the 1.5-litre engine like our test car.

Who would buy one ?

Seat is targeting a younger, more outgoing buyer with its new Ibiza. Appealing to those drivers who want a stylish and reasonably well equipped small car at a reasonable price, the Ibiza will no doubt win favour with those who want down-to-earth, no-frills motoring. It isn’t the most exciting car in the world, but for anyone looking for more thrills then Seat is hoping to provide a solution with the Ibiza Cupra, due in the not too distant future.

Facts at a Glance

Model as tested: Seat Ibiza FR 1.5 EVO 150
Power: 148bhp
Torque: TBA
Max speed: TBA
0-60mph: TBA
Emissions: TBA


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