SEAT Ibiza hatchback

Review

SEAT Ibiza hatchback

Price  £11,410 - £17,635

SEAT Ibiza hatchback

reviewed by Carbuyer

Pros
  • Stylish supermini looks
  • Decent range of engines
  • Fun to drive
Cons
  • Some poor quality interior trim
  • Cramped rear seats
  • Skoda Fabia is better value

At a glance

The greenest
1.2 TDI CR 75PS Ecomotive SE 5dr £14,910
The cheapest
SC 1.2 12v 70PS S a/c 3dr £11,410
The fastest
1.4TSI 140PS FR Edition ACT 5dr £16,660
Top of the range
2.0 TDI CR 143PS FR 5dr £17,635

"The SEAT Ibiza offers good looks and a fun drive for a reasonable price, making it a strong rival to the Ford Fiesta."

The SEAT Ibiza is a small family hatchback that competes with the likes of the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo, as well as the latest models from Korea – the Kia Rio and the Hyundai i20.

SEAT is owned by parent-company Volkswagen, and the car uses many of VW's parts, which are then hidden in a new-look body. The Ibiza can also be had as the practical SEAT Ibiza ST Estate and the SEAT Ibiza SC three-door hatchback.

The range starts with the basic SEAT Ibiza E trim level and goes up to the top-of-the-range, and very quick, SEAT Ibiza Cupra. It gets an eye-catching body kit and big alloy wheels.

Customers can choose from a variety of petrol engines that range in power from the basic 1.2-litre engine fitted to the SEAT Ibiza E to the 1.4-litre turbocharged version in the SEAT Ibiza Cupra, which has 180bhp and is the same one that is fitted to the Volkswagen Polo GTI. There's a choice of 1.2-litre, 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre diesels too.

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MPG, running costs & CO2

3.8 / 5

Great range of efficient engines ensure the Ibiza is cheap to run

The SEAT Ibiza is available with a choice of six petrol engines and four diesels. The cheapest petrol engine is the 59bhp 1.2-litre, which can return up to 52.3mpg, but is slow. The 1.2-litre TSI model is a better bet, though, because it's actually more economical and has extra power for the motorway. Go for the 1.4-litre engine in the sporty SEAT Ibiza Cupra and economy drops to 47.9mpg.

Unsurprisingly, the diesels have the cheapest running costs and should be capable of anything from 60.1mpg to 80.7mpg. All are cheap to tax, and the most economical version is exempt from paying any tax at all.

The most basic versions of the SEAT Ibiza are cheap to insure, while SEAT also offers a fixed-rate servicing plan that allows you to spread the cost of the car's services over an extended period of time.

Interior & comfort

2.9 / 5

Comfort levels are average at best thanks to the firm suspension set up

The SEAT Ibiza is based on the Volkswagen Polo, but SEAT has worked to give the car a sportier feel by stiffening up the suspension and, while it means there is less body lean in the corners, it also makes the car less comfortable than the basic VW Polo.

The 1.2-litre diesel gets quite noisy, too, especially when accelerating. If you cover a lot of motorway miles, we would recommend going for the more powerful 2.0-litre diesel, although it is more expensive. On a whole, though, all SEAT Ibizas do a decent enough job of blocking out road, wind and engine noise.

Next to the Polo, the SEAT's interior also feels a little cheap in places, but the SEAT is priced cheaper to make up for this. We found the stereo controls to be a bit fiddly, too.

Practicality & boot space

2.6 / 5

Rear seats are a little cramped and boot space is average

In terms of practicality, the SEAT Ibiza is constrained by its relatively small size – it's a direct rival for the Ford Fiesta, after all. That means that while there is plenty of space in the front, room in the back isn’t as generous and taller passengers may feel a little cramped.

Go for an Ibiza, and you’ll get slightly more boot space (292 litres) than you’d get in a Ford Fiesta, which musters just 276 litres. Drop down the SEAT's back seats (split-folding in all but the basic model) and load capacity swells to 847 litres, although this is some way short of the 1,152 litres you get in a Peugeot 208.

Reliability & safety

3.4 / 5

Top class safety but there are questions over SEAT's reliability

The SEAT Ibiza is based on a Volkswagen Polo so you would expect decent reliability. Unfortunately, the Ibiza didn’t make it into our 2014 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey. Meanwhile, SEAT finished a disappointing 27th out of 32 manufacturers in our 2013 survey, although that still placed it ahead of main rival, Peugeot.

There are no such concerns with safety, though, and when the SEAT was crash tested by Euro NCAP it was awarded the full five stars. All SEATs come with six airbags, while SE trim levels and above also get electronic stability control.

Engines, drive & performance

3.9 / 5

Quick engines and sharp handling make the Ibiza good fun to drive

The slightly stiffer suspension that gets the Ibiza marked down in terms of comfort compared to the Polo, pays dividends when it comes to driver enjoyment in the corners – meaning the SEAT is more fun to drive than the Volkswagen. A sporty low driving position, sharp steering, and plenty of grip all help with this.

The wide range of engines are powerful, too, but one of the exceptions is the 1.2-litre TDI diesel, which is both noisy and slow. If you want economy and usable pace, the 2.0-litre diesel makes more sense, but the 1.6-litre is also noticeably quicker.

SEAT also offers some sporty petrol models and the 1.4-TSI is quick, getting from 0-60mph in 7.8 seconds, while the even quicker top-of-the-range Cupra model cuts that down to 6.9 seconds. Top speed for the Cupra is an impressive 142mph.

Price, value for money & options

4.2 / 5

All but the basic E model are cheap to buy and well equipped

The SEAT Ibiza can be had in a range of trims from the basic E, through to S A/C, SE, Toca, FR and most expensive Cupra.

The E model gets electric front windows, a height adjustable driver's seat, central locking and a 12v input for charging accessories such as your mobile phone. As the S A/C's name implies, it gets the desirable addition of air conditioning, while the Toca's standard-fit sat-nav is also tempting. Both the sporty FR and Cupra models add eye-catching exterior additions such as a body kit, alloy wheels, as well as some nice touches inside, too.

All SEAT Ibizas come with a three-year/60,000 mile warranty, which is decent enough, but doesn't compare to models such as the Hyundai i20 and Kia Rio, which get five and seven-year plans respectively.

What the others say

3.5 / 5
based on 3 reviews
  • 3.0 / 5
    "With 104bhp and 250Nm of torque on tap, the TDI CR certainly has more punch than the 79bhp Ecomotive model, but it still doesn’t feel particularly fast. While it’s comfortable at town speeds and happy to cruise on the motorway, you’ll find yourself hanging onto the gears much longer than usual in order to make progress."
  • 4.5 / 5
    "SEAT has spiced up the Ibiza with a distinctive new model from July 2008 boasting a roomier, better quality interior and a simplified model range. It ranks among the best in class for interior space and practicality while those sharp lines in the styling also promise an engaging drive."
  • 3.0 / 5
    "Undoubtedly the Ibiza's most attractive feature is its pricing, but the quality of the ride and handling is impressive. It's also cheap to run, sturdy, safe and well equipped."

Last updated 
29 Apr 2014

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