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 S a/c 5dr £14,380
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 shares many parts with the Volkswagen Polo and the Skoda Fabia. Of the three, the Ibiza's image is more likely to appeal to younger drivers, but it still shares the solid build quality of the VW and Skoda. Other rivals include the Peugeot 208, Hyundai i20 and Kia Rio, but the most competent competition comes in the form of the fun-to-drive Ford Fiesta.

Because SEAT is owned by Volkswagen, the Ibiza has access to VW's excellent range of small petrol and diesel engines. The 1.2-litre TFSI petrol is nippy, while the 1.4-litre TFSI delivers startling economy for a quick petrol engine. The diesel engines are the most frugal of all and the 1.2-litre can deliver more than 80mpg, while the 1.6-litre gives a good balance between economy and performance.

There are eight trim levels to choose from: S A/C, SE, Toca, I-TECH, 30 yrs, FR, FR Ed, and Cupra. Even on the basic model equipment levels are impressive and include air-conditioning, front electric windows, remote central locking, and a CD player with an AUX-in plug. Buyers can also choose between three and five doors, and there's also an ST estate version, which we have tested separately.

Not sure what you're looking for? Find out what we think is the best small car by watching our video below.

MPG, running costs & CO2

3.8 / 5

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

The huge range of engines offered by SEAT means that there should be one to suit your needs. The 1.2-litre 70 petrol is cheap to buy and run – with up to 52.3mpg possible and CO2 emissions that translate into road tax of £110. The pricier 1.2-litre TSI is more advanced, quicker, and can achieve fuel economy of 53.3mpg and emissions of 119g/km for annual road tax of £30. The 1.4-litre 180 TSI fitted to the sporty Cupra model is another favourite of ours. Drive it and you’ll be impressed by its pace, ability to return economy of 47.9mpg, and CO2 emissions of 139g/km, which mean road tax is relatively cheap at £130 a year.

It's the diesel Ibiza that offers the best economy and the 1.2-litre Ecomotive can return up 80.7mpg and qualifies for free road tax. Choose the 1.6-litre diesel and you can expect to return fuel economy of up to 65.7mpg and pay £30 annual road tax, while the 2.0-litre diesel has enough grunt to keep up with some fast hatchbacks. It can return up to 65.7mpg and emissions of 123g/km for £110 annual road tax.

You’ll save money on service costs if you choose an Ibiza over a Volkswagen Polo and a minor service is £20 cheaper at £129. Ibiza insurance runs from group 5 in the entry-level 1.2-litre petrol, to group 27 in the top-of-the-range Cupra.

Interior & comfort

2.9 / 5

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

Get behind the wheel of the SEAT and its connection to the Polo is clear. Everywhere you look quality plastics are on show and everything feels solidly built. Poke around and you’ll find some areas that aren’t quite up to the Polo's standard, but the differences are marginal and many people will prefer the sportier look of the SEAT's driver-focussed dashboard. The steering wheel and driver's seat also offer the full range of adjustment, so getting a comfortable driving position is easy.

The SEAT doesn’t just look sportier, its stiffer suspension means it feels sportier too, and some may prefer the Polo's more comfortable ride. Quick FR and Cupra models are stiffer still, but that's to be expected on sporty models.

If you’re going to cover a lot of motorway miles we would steer clear of the noisy 1.6-litre diesel engine – the 2.0-litre diesel engine is more expensive but much better-suited to effortless cruising.

Practicality & boot space

2.6 / 5

Rear seats are a little cramped and boot space is average

There's enough room in the front seats of the SEAT to accomodate tall adults comfortably but they might not do so well in the rear seats. Headroom and knee room are both quite tight because the car's relatively small overall dimensions limit what SEAT can do inside. Buyers can choose to fit five doors for better access to the rear seats.

It wins points for having a bigger boot than the Ford Fiesta's 276-litre offering, but how big it is depends on which version you go for – the three-door offers 294 litres, while the five door has 292 litres. The ST estate is significantly bigger, with 430 litres. Both the hatchbacks offer a total luggage capacity of 847 litres with the split-folding rear seats down.

SEAT has given the Ibiza plenty of useful storage areas so it should be possible to find somewhere to hide most clutter and there are two cupholders.

Reliability & safety

3.4 / 5

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

With many of its parts shared with the Volkswagen Polo you would expect the SEAT to offer decent reliability. Not enough Ibiza owners participated for the car to make it into our 2014 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey but there's not much reassurance to be found in the manufacturers’ rankings, where SEAT finished 27th out of 33 in the reliability category.

All SEATs come with six airbags, but you’ll have to choose SE trim levels and above to get electronic stability control. Nevertheless, the SEAT scored five stars when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP.

Engines, drive & performance

3.9 / 5

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

Stiffer suspension might make the SEAT slightly less comfortable than the Volkswagen Polo, but it pays off in the corners, where the Ibiza suffers from less body lean and feels more composed. Responsive steering and lots of grip make the SEAT fun to drive, but it still falls short of the enjoyment offered by the excellent Ford Fiesta.

The huge range of engines means there's performance to suit most buyers. The slowest Ibiza is the basic 1.2-litre petrol, which gets from 0-62mph in 13.9 seconds, while the 1.4-litre in the Cupra is the quickest, setting the benchmark in 6.9 seconds. The 1.2-litre TSI petrol engine is one of our favourites and completes 0-62mph in 9.8 seconds, while the 1.6-litre diesel's time of 10.5 seconds isn’t far off. Of the diesel engines, the 2.0-litre is quickest, with 0-62mph taking 8.2 seconds. SEAT's excellent DSG gearbox allows for quick manual changes and has a fully automatic mode. It comes standard on the Cupra and can also be fitted to the 1.2-litre TSI.

Price, value for money & options

4.2 / 5

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

With air-conditioning, electric windows, and central locking all the basics are there in terms of equipment even in the entry-level S A/C model. SE models add 15-inch alloy wheels, electrically operated and heated door mirrors, and fog lights that follow the direction of the steering wheel. Adding sat-nav and a Bluetooth phone connection, the Toca looks like a good mid-range choice, while the i-TECH and 30 Years models add unique styling features, and the latter is also fitted with leather trim, climate control, and a rear parking camera. FR models get sat-nav, sports suspension, twin exhaust pipes, cruise control, and sports seats, while FR Editions get 17-inch (instead of 16-inch) alloy wheels, climate control and racy red seatbelts. The Cupra model has a unique body kit and 17-inch alloy wheels, powerful bi-xenon headlights, and sports seats.

An extensive options list means there's the opportunity to specify your Ibiza exactly how you would like it and that includes everything from cruise control (£150) to racing brakes (£1,000) from motorsport supplier AP on the sporty Cupra model. The £450 Technology pack adds cruise control, automatic headlights with auto dimming, and rain-sensing wipers. It's available on SE and Toca trim levels.

The 1.6-litre diesel depreciates the least and usually keeps around 46 per cent of its original value after three years/36,000 miles, while the estate fitted with an automatic gearbox and the 1.2-litre petrol engine is the quickest depreciator. It will keep just 35 per cent of its original value over the same period.

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 
20 Aug 2014

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