02 April 2008

Differently the same

Seat's new Ibiza almost delivers on concept promise. Almost

Seat Ibiza

The new Seat Ibiza has arrived, and it's really-actually-quite-similar to the most excellent Bocanegra concept we saw in Geneva last month.

Really-actually-quite-similar, but not quite the same. With its wide, planted stance and strong creases, the Ibiza - the first Seat designed by former Lambo stylist Luc Donckerwolke - retains the same overall shape as the concept, but as so often happens, it seems to have lost a little something.

Perhaps it was inevitable. There's no doubting it's a handsome thing, but the production car was never going to retain the massive alloys and LED-studded tinted headlights. And besides, it's a five-door rather than a three-door.

It should be a decent drive, too: longer than the outgoing model, the new Ibiza sits on a wider track with a revised chassis, and Seat is promising 'class-leading, sporty handling'. Impressively, it'll even come with the option of the VW Group's DSG flappy paddle gearbox.

At launch, we'll see three petrol engines in 1.2-, 1.4- and 1.6-litre flavours, but expect a few TDI diesels to follow, along with a three-door variant and, later, a properly hot FR version.

Here's hoping it'll come with the blacked-out nose, evil LED headlights and chicken-wire front grille arrangement of the Bocanegra.

If you want to transform your garden Ibiza into something closer to the concept, however...

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