What is it?
The SEAT Ibiza has been a hugely popular model for this Spanish manufacturer over the years, and while it might now have a range of SUVs for buyers to choose, the more conventional Ibiza hatchback remains a big seller. In fact, since 1984 when it was first launched, more than six million have been produced.
The latest generation, which arrived in showrooms in 2017, represented a big step forward, becoming more modern-looking inside and out, while also growing in size. But to keep it competitive next to newer rivals like the Renault Clio and Vauxhall Corsa, Seat has now revised the Ibiza. Let’s find out what it’s like.
On first glance, not that much appears to have changed with the new Ibiza. Granted, there are some new colours and wheel designs, but it’s remarkably similar to its predecessor, on the exterior at least.
So it’s inside where SEAT has made the most changes, with a greater focus on quality and technology – two areas that are now more important than ever, even in smaller cars.
What’s under the bonnet?
The engine line-up remains the same as before, with a trio of 1.0-litre petrol engines on offer. Kicking off the range is a naturally aspirated model with 79bhp. While ideal around town and for new drivers, if budget will stretch, it’s worth looking at one of the turbocharged engine options instead.
Two versions are available – a 94bhp option that uses a five-speed manual gearbox, along with a 108bhp car that gets the choice of a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG automatic.
The 94bhp is the best-seller, and is able to hit 60mph in 10.7 seconds, while returning up to a claimed 54.3mpg, with CO2 emissions of 118g/km.
What’s it like to drive?
The Ibiza has always been one of the better cars to drive in the supermini class, and the same remains true now. Particularly in FR guise, which gets a slightly sportier suspension setup, this SEAT feels agile and nimble and is good fun through the corners. We’d be tempted to pay a bit more money for the 108bhp car as the 94bhp engine does require a lot of work to get the best from it, though it’s still impressively settled, even at higher speeds.
The ride is on the firmer side of the spectrum, though, and particularly in this FR guise. If you want maximum comfort, a lower-spec car with smaller alloy wheels could be worth choosing.
How does it look?
This latest Ibiza remains a modern-looking choice, so it’s easy to see why Seat hasn’t made too many changes, but new colours (Sapphire Blue and Asphalt Blue) add a bit of extra appeal, while the new alloy wheel designs are more distinctive than before too. LED lights are now fitted across the range.
But with the Ibiza’s sharp crease lines, short overhangs and neat dimensions, it’s still more than able to hold its own in this class.
What’s it like inside?
As we’ve mentioned, it’s the Ibiza’s interior that has received the bulk of the changes, and though its predecessor’s cabin was far from bad, this latest model is certainly a welcome improvement.
A new 9.2-inch touchscreen runs on new software, and is very slick to use, while wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto improve the whole experience.
The Ibiza also ticks lots of boxes when it comes to spaciousness, offering levels of roominess you’d usually expect from the class above. With a 355-litre boot and plenty of rear seat space, this Seat could make a great small family car.
What’s the spec like?
The Ibiza range starts from £17,755, and that buys an SE car with plenty of standard equipment, including 15-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, cruise control and an eight-inch touchscreen with full smartphone integration. Upgrade to the SE Technology (costing from £18,750) and it brings a smart 16-inch alloy wheel, as well as a 9.2-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation.
The sportier FR model packs larger 17-inch alloy wheels and a racier bodykit, while also coming with upgraded LED headlights, dual-zone climate control and ambient interior lighting. An FR Sport trim then brings larger 18-inch alloy wheels, digital dials and microsuede upholstery, with prices for the FR starting from £20,055, and FR Sport from £20,905.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Xcellence (from £20,800) packs keyless entry and electric folding mirrors, while the top-spec Xcellence Lux version comes with adaptive cruise control, a reversing camera and adjustable driving modes.
The tweaks to the latest Ibiza aren’t huge, but they’re most certainly welcome and improve what was already an excellent supermini.
Now benefitting from a higher-quality interior, increased standard equipment and a smart new touchscreen, these changes ensure the Seat Ibiza remains one of the best small cars on the market.