In-depth reviews

SEAT Ibiza hatchback review

“Stylish and practical, the SEAT Ibiza is also good to drive, making it a top supermini choice”

Carbuyer Rating

4.2 out of 5

Owners Rating

3.0 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Price
£16,260 - £22,300

Pros

  • Spacious interior
  • Handsome looks
  • Quiet at speed

Cons

  • Steering lacks feel
  • A few hard interior plastics
  • Some extras should be standard

British buyers go for superminis in their thousands and it's easy to understand why. For very reasonable monthly payments, there’s a range of practical five-door models that are fun to drive around town and on country lanes but perfectly competent as motorway cars too. As far as fuss-free motoring goes, they’re hard to beat.

We think the SEAT Ibiza is one of the best, taking the fight right to the Peugeot 208, Renault Clio, Vauxhall Corsa, Volkswagen Polo, MINI Hatchback and even the Ford Fiesta. A refreshed and updated Ibiza is set to arrive in summer, which should further strengthen its appeal.

New from the ground up for its 2017 launch, the current Ibiza debuted the Volkswagen Group’s most up-to-date supermini platform, stealing a march even on the latest Volkswagen Polo. It offers much more interior space than before, including a practical boot.

This hasn’t come at the cost of style – in fact, the Ibiza now looks a lot more planted, thanks mostly to its slightly wider bodywork. This has helped offset the fact that it's also 2cm taller, and there’s a strong resemblance between this car and the SEAT Leon – no bad thing. Sharp creases and small touches like door-mounted side mirrors all add up to a very modern and attractive car.

Because designers have been able to create extra space without sacrificing looks, the three-door Ibiza SC and ST estate haven't been replaced.

Delve into the driving experience and you may wonder if you need a bigger car. Even the small-sounding 1.0-litre petrol is more than willing when a turbocharger is fitted in the TSI versions. The suspension is supple enough to deal with poor road surfaces but firm enough to keep the Ibiza level through corners. The steering is a little lacking in feedback but the Ibiza feels so secure and refined on the move, that it’s very easy to forget you’re driving a supermini at all.

The story is similar inside, where there’s an appreciable air of maturity. It’s far from revolutionary but the arrival of SEAT’s Digital Cockpit instrument panel adds to the Ibiza’s contemporary feel - it's available in FR Sport and Xcellence Lux trims and as an option for other models. Build quality and ergonomics are spot on, while equipment levels look decent – though an alarm is extra on lower-spec cars.

One area in which there are no grounds for criticism is interior space. SEAT has made the most of the Ibiza’s enlarged mechanical underpinnings, making a small car that’s big inside. The rear seats will accommodate two adults or three children with ease, while the 355-litre boot is only 25 litres shy of the space available in the back of the Volkswagen Golf and SEAT Leon, cars in the segment above the Ibiza.

SEAT offers the Ibiza with a wide range of petrol engines. Entry-level cars get a 79bhp 1.0-litre ‘MPI’ engine but the majority of buyers choose a three-cylinder TSI 1.0-litre turbo-petrol. This is such a competent and willing engine that it even found its way into the latest Volkswagen Golf, and in the smaller Ibiza it appeals even more. You can have it with 94 or 108bhp, and the latter is now the most powerful option after the 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine was discontinued. Even the entry-level 1.0-litre ‘MPI’ petrol feels quicker than its lethargic 0-62mph figure of 14.7 seconds suggests; it’s free-revving in town and is fine on the motorway.

The 1.0-litre turbo petrol officially returns up to 54.3mpg or 52.3mpg in the higher power outputs, with the 79bhp just as efficient as the 108bhp option. A DSG automatic gearbox is also available with the 108bhp 1.0-litre petrol engine.

The range-topping hot Cupra model was discontinued after the previous generation but the 1.5-litre engine made the Ibiza feel like a mini hot hatch in the short time it was on sale, taking just 7.9 seconds to get from 0-62mph. In 2020 the sole diesel engine, a 94bhp 1.6-litre TDI, was also made unavailable, but the petrol engines will be best for the vast majority of buyers anyway.

Entry-level SE trim includes Bluetooth, DAB radio, air-conditioning and front electric windows, along with LED running lights, alloy wheels and a 6.5-inch colour infotainment screen. Unlike rivals, you can also choose a metallic paint colour for no extra cost.

SE Technology brings sat nav, together with an eight-inch infotainment screen and online features, and gets you more kit than the equivalent Ford Fiesta trim level, the Trend. FR bundles 17-inch alloy wheels, sports seats and suspension, LED headlights, a driving mode selector and a bodykit, and FR Sport adds bigger wheels, the digital cockpit and suede upholstery. Top-spec Xcellence and Xcellence Lux spec boast two-zone air con keyless entry, adaptive cruise control and all-round parking sensors with a rear-view camera.

The SEAT Ibiza will keep occupants safe, too, with a five-star Euro NCAP score after extensive crash-testing. Its adult occupant protection score of 95% is particularly high for a supermini, and the safety body has commended SEAT for fitting autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection as standard.

Overall, the latest SEAT Ibiza is a well-rounded package that sits near the top of its class. In our favourite SE Technology trim with a 1.0-litre TSI 94bhp petrol engine, it's a well equipped, thrifty and fun-to-drive supermini, and one that's definitely worthy of consideration.

Next Steps

Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.0 SE [EZ] 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £16,260

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.6 TDI 95 SE [EZ] 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £19,280

Fastest

  • Name
    1.0 TSI 115 FR [EZ] 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £19,420

Recommended

Volkswagen T-Cross SUV review
Turquoise VW T-Cross driving
Volkswagen T-Cross
28 Jul 2021

Volkswagen T-Cross SUV review

Bentley Bentayga SUV review
Bentley Bentayga Hybrid
Bentley Bentayga
28 Jul 2021

Bentley Bentayga SUV review

Audi Q7 SUV review
Audi Q7 SUV
Audi Q7
28 Jul 2021

Audi Q7 SUV review

Citroën C3 Aircross SUV review
Citroen C3 Aircross SUV
Citroën C3 Aircross
26 Jul 2021

Citroën C3 Aircross SUV review

Most Popular

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
23 Jul 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Top 10 most comfortable cars 2021
Mercedes E-Class saloon
Mercedes E-Class saloon
26 Jul 2021

Top 10 most comfortable cars 2021

What is a V5C? Here’s everything you need to know about the logbook
V5C close up
Tips and advice
22 Jul 2021

What is a V5C? Here’s everything you need to know about the logbook

More on Ibiza

Pricing announced for 2021 SEAT Ibiza
2021 SEAT Ibiza FR Desire Red
SEAT Ibiza
15 Jul 2021

Pricing announced for 2021 SEAT Ibiza

The SEAT Ibiza is on sale now from £16,945 and comes with updated tech and styling
Best cars for students
Skoda Fabia
Best cars
15 Jul 2021

Best cars for students

If you're a student, and you're looking for a new car, chances are you're after something compact, inexpensive, practical and cheap to run. The cars o…
Best used small cars
Ford Fiesta Mk7
Best cars
9 Jul 2021

Best used small cars

Looking for a small, sensible secondhand buy? We name 10 of the best small used cars
SEAT and Volkswagen seatbelt safety issue uncovered
Credit: Tekniikan Maailma
SEAT Arona SUV
9 May 2018

SEAT and Volkswagen seatbelt safety issue uncovered

Possible safety issue risks left-rear belt unbuckling in certain situations on Arona, Ibiza and Polo models
SEAT Ibiza Cupra hatchback (2008-2017)
SEAT Ibiza Cupra hatchback
11 Sep 2017

SEAT Ibiza Cupra hatchback (2008-2017)

“The SEAT Ibiza Cupra is quick and desirable thanks to sharp looks and a 1.8-litre petrol engine”
SEAT Ibiza ST estate (2008-2016)
SEAT Ibiza ST estate
25 Jan 2017

SEAT Ibiza ST estate (2008-2016)

"The SEAT Ibiza ST is a supermini-based estate car, which offers heaps of practicality with affordable running costs"
SEAT Ibiza hatchback (2008-2017)
SEAT Ibiza hatchback
16 Dec 2016

SEAT Ibiza hatchback (2008-2017)

"The SEAT Ibiza is one of our favourite superminis, with a sharp design, impressive engines and fun handling."
Used SEAT Ibiza buying guide: 2008-2017 (Mk4)
SEAT Ibiza hatchback
10 Oct 2016

Used SEAT Ibiza buying guide: 2008-2017 (Mk4)

Multi-talented Mk4 supermini is a sound secondhand buy
Watchdog: Simple electrical fault takes five months to fix
SEAT Ibiza hatchback
26 Jul 2016

Watchdog: Simple electrical fault takes five months to fix

Reader’s SEAT Ibiza spent months in garage, but damaged fusebox was an easy repair
New small SEAT Ibiza SUV on the way
SEAT Ibiza hatchback
16 Mar 2016

New small SEAT Ibiza SUV on the way

A SEAT Ibiza-based SUV is planned as part of an SUV range expansion
Revised SEAT Ibiza Cupra focuses on driving fun
SEAT Ibiza hatchback
2 Sep 2015

Revised SEAT Ibiza Cupra focuses on driving fun

Hot hatchback has more power and on-board tech to fight Ford Fiesta ST
2015 SEAT Ibiza for Goodwood debut
SEAT Ibiza hatchback
5 Jun 2015

2015 SEAT Ibiza for Goodwood debut

The SEAT Ibiza supermini will make its UK debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this month
SEAT Ibiza FR
SEAT Ibiza
11 Mar 2015

SEAT Ibiza FR

The SEAT Ibiza FR provides the go-faster looks many buyers crave without the running costs to match, making it a very popular choice.
SEAT to raise dealership standards
SEAT Mii hatchback
18 Nov 2014

SEAT to raise dealership standards

After stinging criticism, SEAT is to overhaul its dealerships for a better customer experience
SEAT Ibiza Toca
SEAT Ibiza
10 Oct 2014

SEAT Ibiza Toca

There's only one engine available in the SEAT Ibiza Toca, but the long list of standard equipment should be enough to keep many buyers happy.
SEAT I-TECH models announced
SEAT Mii hatchback
15 Aug 2014

SEAT I-TECH models announced

Special edition I-TECH models added to SEAT Mii, Ibiza, Toledo and Alhambra ranges
SEAT Ibiza FR Edition unveiled
SEAT Ibiza hatchback
8 Apr 2014

SEAT Ibiza FR Edition unveiled

The new SEAT Ibiza FR Edition gets more economical engines and added kit
SEAT Ibiza deals: Car deal of the week
SEAT Ibiza hatchback
20 Sep 2013

SEAT Ibiza deals: Car deal of the week

The three-door SEAT Ibiza SC is now available from £9,995

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
13 Apr 2021

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
3 Jun 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Tips and advice
15 Jun 2021

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
23 Jul 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Best car interiors
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Best car interiors

Best electric cars
Volkswagen ID.3
Best cars
6 May 2021

Best electric cars

Best cheap-to-run cars
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
10 Jun 2021

Best cheap-to-run cars

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks
Mercedes AMG A45 - rear
Hot hatches
25 Jun 2021

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks