Expert Reviews

UK drive: Seat Ibiza

Friday 21 July 2017

UK drive: Seat Ibiza

Built from the ground up by the Spanish manufacturer on VWAG’s new MQB A0 platform, the fifth-generation Seat Ibiza is a totally new car

Along with the new platform comes a totally new look, much sharper and aggressive than the previous generation hatchback — although it clearly retains Seat’s design DNA.

The engine lineup has seen a refresh, too. At launch, two engines will be available — a 1.0 MPI and a 1.0 TSI, which is available in various states of tune.

Looks & Image

Right off the bat, the new Ibiza has a presence about it that no previous generation ever had.

The new platform has helped a lot with this, as a longer wheelbase means the car has short front and rear overhangs — giving it a more brash stance.

In the FR trim we tested, 18-inch alloy wheels and full LED headlamps complimented this look well, giving off a very menacing vibe when looking straight on. It’s certainly something that would appeal to young buyers with an enthusiastic mindset, though.

For those looking for something a little more stealthy, the SE and Xcellence models may well be the cars to go for. In softer colours and without the large alloys, it’s got a calm presence and would go completely unnoticed around town.

Space & Practicality

There’s only one body style available for the new Ibiza — a five door hatchback. Seat say no estate version will be available as supermini estate buyers have migrated over to small crossovers, a market the manufacturer aims to serve with the Arona.

For its class though, the Ibiza is extremely capable on the practical side of things. It boats 355 litres of boot space, a 63 litre increase over the previous model. Compare that to its rivals, the Ford Fiesta’s 292 litres and the VW Polo’s 290, the new Ibiza has the class well and topped. It even rises to 823 litres with the rear seats folded, should you need the extra space.

This increased boot size has fortunately had no negative effects on passenger space. There’s plenty of room in the front of the car and, at least with an average sized person behind the wheel, there was enough room behind the driver’s seat to fit a medium-sized suitcase in the footwell.

Strangely though, the glovebox is difficult to fit more than a couple of CDs in as it’s taken up largely by a disc drive for the navigation system. In an age where huge chunks of data can be stored on small memory cards, it seems an awful waste of space.

Behind the Wheel

In FR trim, the Ibiza is something of a confidence-inspiring drive. With the Seat driver profile sport mode through the Welsh countryside, the car felt composed and responsive. Steering was direct and communicated the road well, with the new chassis’ refined nature easy to feel.

The 1.0-litre TSI served very well here, thanks to a wide torque band, meaning gear changes rarely had to be made and it never felt asthmatic, rather surprisingly for such a small engine.

What the Ibiza FR has in performance driving credentials, it fortunately doesn’t lack in everyday driving comfort. Putting the driver profile into Eco mode led to a much softer ride and allowed whisking around town to become something painless. There was little in the way of outside noise too, although in sport mode, it would have been nice to hear a more aggresive engine note.

Value for Money

The Ibiza FR we tested came in at £17,835 — which on the face of things, is rather pricey. However, it comes with plenty of kit, with a full infotainment package that includes MirrorLink, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard.

Seat really made an effort to push the connectivity side of the new car, however, the infotainment system was frustrating to use. Bluetooth connectivity proved rather weak, although Android Auto via USB was a seamless experience

The standard satellite navigation was a pain, struggling to find our Llyn Brenig destination when searching by name and ultimately forcing us to rely on Google Maps.

Who would buy one ?

It seems like the perfect car for someone looking to get their second car, perhaps something a little sportier than their first option but nothing overly-different. Seat are keen to highlight the young-buyer age for the Ibiza — boasting a 10-year younger average than its competitors.

Facts at a Glance

Model: Seat Ibiza

Model as tested: Seat Ibiza FR 95ps

Base price: £13,183

Price as tested: £17,835

Engine tested: 1.0 TSI

Power (bhp): 94bhp

Torque (Nm): 175Nm

Max speed (mph): 113mph

0-60mph: 10.9 seconds

MPG: 60.1mpg

Emissions (g/km): 106 g/km

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