Review

SEAT Ibiza hatchback

£9,995 - £17,335

After receiving a raft of updates in 2015, the SEAT Ibiza makes even more sense as a supermini than it did before. Although not much has changed on the outside – it retains much the same sharp design as the ‘pre-facelift’ version – a range of new engines and interior technology updates are very welcome.

SEAT portrays itself as the youthful, fun and sporty arm of the Volkswagen Group, adding an extra layer of design exuberance to the worthy but otherwise slightly dull Volkswagen Polo and Skoda Fabia. And in what's an exceptionally hard-fought class, the Ibiza has to take on some seriously talented competition outside of the VW Group. There's the ever-popular Ford Fiesta and the big-selling Vauxhall Corsa, as well as the Mazda 2, Renault Clio, Hyundai i20 and Peugeot 208.

With the Ibiza, you get a choice of three body styles – the three-door SC and five-door hatchback reviewed here, plus the ST estate, which we’ve reviewed separately. The SC (or ‘Sports Coupe’) gets slightly sportier styling and has less room in the back than the more practical five-door model.

There's also an extensive and, if we’re honest, slightly bewildering, array of engines to choose from. The entry-level model gets a 74bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol also used in the SEAT Mii city car. Next, there's a turbocharged three-cylinder that comes with either 93 or 108bhp. Thanks to the turbo, both versions, despite being more powerful than the entry-level engine, are actually considerably more efficient and cheaper to run.

There's also a 1.2-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol, producing either 89 or 108bhp, while topping the range is a powerful but still efficient 148bhp 1.4-litre turbo. You can also go for the high-performance Cupra version, which comes with a 189bhp 1.8-litre turbocharged engine.

Just the one diesel engine is offered – a 1.4-litre TDI available with either 74 or 103bhp. It's the most efficient engine in the Ibiza range, officially returning around 83mpg. Its CO2 emissions of 93g/km mean it's exempt from road tax – this and the 93bhp 1.0-litre turbo petrol are the only exempt engines in the range.

Unfortunately, the best-value trim Ibiza level – Connect – is only available with one engine, the 89bhp 1.2-litre petrol (although if this is your engine of choice, we’d heartily recommend it). If you want a wider choice of engines, we’d recommend the SE model which, although not coming with quite as much technology as the Connect, gets all the vital kit. There's alloy wheels, a five-inch colour touchscreen, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, air-conditioning, DAB radio, a six-speaker stereo, LED tail-lights and LED daytime running lights.

With a five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating, safety shouldn’t be a worry. Stability control, autonomous emergency braking assistance, tyre-pressure monitoring, a variety of airbags and traction control all come as standard.