SEAT Ibiza hatchback - Engines, drive & performance
A quiet, comfortable and competent driving experience make the SEAT Ibiza an excellent all-rounder
The SEAT Ibiza pulls off an impressive trick; despite being a relatively small car, it feels so secure and quiet that buyers downsizing from a Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus are likely to notice little difference when cruising on motorways.
A lot of this is down to the Ibiza’s proportions. It’s almost exactly the same length as the previous model but, crucially, is 9cm wider. This means it feels more secure on the road, and is better configured for long-distance journeys. That extra width doesn’t mean the Ibiza is unwieldy though; its accurate steering makes placing it on the road easy, while the sound driver ergonomics and conventional interior layout mean you get used to driving it quickly.
Although accurate, that steering isn’t the most communicative. Though you can tell the car has loads of grip in corners by the way it can tackle bends at speed, you don’t feel a lot through the steering wheel. That rather robs it of fun and the Ford Fiesta and MINI Hatchback are both more enjoyable driver’s cars.
However, although driving excitement isn’t foremost on the Ibiza agenda, it’s a remarkably comfortable, quiet and smooth-riding car to travel in. The way it effortlessly breezes down the road is seldom seen in such a small car.
One caveat, though – while it’s still pretty refined, the optional 18-inch wheels do rob it of some ride comfort and the MINI Hatchback outclasses it for composure, particularly when adaptive suspension is fitted.
SEAT Ibiza petrol engines
The 79bhp entry-level ‘MPI’ petrol engine is a little slow, taking 14.7 seconds to go from 0-62mph. You might find you often need to drop down a couple of gears to accelerate, although once up to speed, it can take longer motorway trips in its stride.
Far better is the three-cylinder TSI turbo-petrol, which does the same in either 10.9 or 9.3 seconds, depending on whether it’s configured in 94 or 113bhp form.
We’re familiar with this engine from both the Volkswagen Golf and Volkswagen up!, and have long been fans of its willing nature and characterful exhaust note. It’s a perfect fit for the Ibiza, revving freely as you accelerate and settling down quietly once cruising. It can be slightly loud when being pushed to the limits of its rev range but, while relatively pronounced, the noise it makes is far from unpleasant. The 94bhp 1.0-litre comes with a delightfully slick five-speed manual which gels perfectly with the willing, easy-going nature of the engine, although the sixth gear found in the 113bhp version is a nice addition for motorway driving.
SEAT’s 1.6-litre diesel engine with 94bhp feels a little more urgent than the Fiesta diesel, providing extra confidence when overtaking and joining fast-flowing traffic, although this extra force fades away as engine revs increase. It doesn't feel as spritely in town, though, where the 1.0-litre TSI is quicker when pulling away from rest. The diesel can't match the petrol engine for quietness, either, even on the motorway.