In-depth reviews

SEAT Ibiza hatchback - Engines, drive & performance

A quiet, comfortable and competent driving experience make the SEAT Ibiza an excellent all-rounder

Carbuyer Rating

4.2 out of 5

Owners Rating

3.0 out of 5

Read owner reviews
Engines, drive & performance Rating

4.0 out of 5

​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 the motorway.

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 and responsive, the 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 diminishes the sense of fun and makes the Ford Fiesta and MINI Hatchback 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 stiffer suspension and bigger wheels of the FR and FR Sport versions do rob them 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 10.3 seconds, depending on whether it’s configured in 94 or 108bhp 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 108bhp version is a nice addition for motorway driving. The 94bhp model needs working a bit harder to get up to speed and it's possible to get caught in the wrong gear at low revs.

Diesel engines

A 94bhp 1.6-litre diesel engine was part of the range until 2020. It's 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.

Which Is Best?

Cheapest

  • Name
    1.0 MPI SE 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £16,930

Most Economical

  • Name
    1.0 TSI 95 SE 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £17,380

Fastest

  • Name
    1.0 TSI 110 FR 5dr
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £20,135

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