- Car Reviews
Mega space, updated tech, thrummy 3cyl engines
Slightly remote drive, no Cupra hot hatch planned
What is it?
The Ibiza is Seat’s longest-running nameplate and perhaps the car it’s best-known for. It goes toe-to-toe with the Renault Clio, Peugeot 208, Ford Fiesta, Citroen C3, Vauxhall Corsa, Toyota Yaris and the rest of the mainstream supermini crowd. This is a part of the market that had a quiet period only a few years ago, but is now thriving with a bunch of new teeny combustion-engined launches.
This facelifted fifth-generation Ibiza still sits on the VW Group’s MQB-A0 platform that’s now shared with the Volkswagen Polo, the Skoda Fabia and the Audi A1. It’s essentially a smaller, lighter variant of what’s under all of the VW Group’s transverse-engined cars and is the same platform that underpins the Arona crossover. That launched in 2017 and has also been lightly updated in 2021.
You mentioned facelifted. What has been updated?
Don’t expect a complete Ibiza overhaul. The exterior has barely been touched and retains its angular, sharp-edged, polygonal themes. Still a good-looking supermini though, isn’t it? Lines on the bonnet and body-sides catch the light, giving interest to the five-door box. The proportions help, because a longer wheelbase and wider track push the wheels to the corners.
Oh, and on the subject of wheels, you get three new options with this mid-life facelift, as well as a new infotainment system, LED lights as standard, two new paint colours and a new badge on the back. Told you it wasn’t anything radical.
Are the engines any different?
Not really, although that’s no bad thing. Diesels were axed from the UK in 2020 and there’s no longer a 1.5-litre four-cylinder option either. 1.0-litre three-cylinders are the order of the day now – you can have either an 89bhp MPI unit or a 94bhp/108bhp TSI.
Seat’s average owner is ten years younger than the rest of the VW Group, so the Ibiza’s kit list includes stuff young buyers want. A Beats audio system is an option, for example.
There’s no longer an estate version of the Ibiza, but hardly anyone in Britain bought that anyway. There’s no three-door either, so the five-door hatch is your lot.
What's the verdict?
The Ibiza is a well-pitched car, giving loads of space and equipment with well-rounded dynamics at tempting prices. It projects a sharp visual presence too, especially with new standard LED lights.
The 94bhp three-cylinder engine will do the job for most people and is impressively refined. There’s also the option of the 108bhp unit if you’re often travelling fully-loaded. The urban ride, and motorway cruising, are almost up to the standards of the next class up, although things can be a little firm with the sportier FR setup.
The only crying shame is that Cupra seemingly has no intention of giving us a proper Fiesta ST/Hyundai i20N rival. It could make for a properly exciting little hot hatch, the Mk5 Ibiza.