SEAT Ibiza hatchback
Price £9,995 - £17,335
- Good value for money
- Striking design
- Great engines
- Ride is a little firm
- Skoda Fabia is cheaper
- Some rivals more spacious in the back
At a glance
“Stylish design, sporty handling and fantastic engines make the SEAT Ibiza one of the best superminis you can buy.”
The SEAT Ibiza has been kept fresh and in touch with strong rivals thanks to a big update in 2015. Though the sharp outside styling has barely changed, it conceals a wealth of technology updates and some impressive new engines.
This helped the Ibiza to hang on to its position as one of the more appealing superminis to drive – no idle boast when its competition includes the Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio and Peugeot 208. Quality and ease of use isn’t forgotten about, either, and it's here that the Ibiza benefits from its VW Group parentage. Some of the excellent fit and finish of the Volkswagen Polo shines through, as does the user-friendliness of the Skoda Fabia.
Every rival to the SEAT Ibiza has its own strong points, though, and the Ibiza has its work cut out to steal sales from the family-favourite Vauxhall Corsa and the modern Mazda 2 as well as increasingly popular Hyundai i20 and Kia Rio, whose seven-year warranty is the envy of the industry .
SEAT is Volkswagen Group's youthful, fun arm, and this can be seen in the exuberant styling of its three-door SC (‘Sports Coupe’) model, though this has less room in the back than the regular five-door hatchback. There's an ST (‘Sports Tourer’) estate model, too, which we’ve reviewed separately.
Adding to the choice is a dizzying array of engines. The smallest is a 1.0-litre petrol also found in the SEAT Mii city car, available with 74bhp or in turbocharged 93 or 108bhp versions, both of which are actually more fuel efficient and cheaper to run than the 74bhp engine. An 89 or 108bhp 1.2-litre turbocharged petrol can also be chosen, as can a 148bhp 1.4-litre. Most powerful is the 189bhp 1.8-litre turbo of the high-performance Cupra model.
In contrast, there is only one 1.4-litre diesel available with either 74 or 103bhp, promising fuel efficiency of up to 83mpg. CO2 emissions are below 100 grams per kilometer too, and the diesels and the 93bhp petrol are the only Ibiza engines to be road tax exempt.
It seems a shame that the best value of all the Ibiza trim levels, the Ibiza Connect is only available with the 89bhp 1.2-litre petrol and not the other, more efficient choices, though this still makes it a package well worthy of our recommendation. A greater range of engine choices is available with the SE model, though, and though this isn’t quite as well equipped as the Connect, it still has air-conditioning, DAB radio, Bluetooth phone and USB music connection, as well as smart LEDs and LED lighting on the outside.
Safety is another strong point – the Ibiza was awarded a five-star rating after undergoing independent crash-testing by Euro NCAP, helped by the safety support systems it features These include autonomous emergency braking, which applies the brakes if an obstacle is detected in the road ahead.
The SEAT Ibiza hasn’t yet featured in our annual Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, but SEAT as a brand came in mid-table 18th place out of 32 car makers surveyed. Owners report of being pleased by the performance and handling of their cars, and particularly their low running-costs. Build and ride quality both came in for criticism, though.
But for many happy owners the reassurance of backing by the VW Group is an attraction, and the Ibiza is certainly a capable family car which is a pleasure to drive.
The SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive diesel will return more than 80mpg and enjoys free road tax
The SEAT Ibiza slots in behind the brilliant Ford Fiesta as one of the most fun superminis to drive
A comfortable driving position and high-quality dashboard can’t hide the fact that the SEAT Ibiza is a bit cramped
Practicality isn’t the SEAT Ibiza’s forte, but there’s a decent-sized boot and room for four at a push
The SEAT Ibiza was awarded the full five stars by Euro NCAP, but owners aren’t a satisfied bunch