Space, technology, price
Slightly remote drive, cabin plastics
What is it?
The Ibiza is Seat’s longest-running nameplate and the car it’s best-known for. It goes toe-to-toe with the Renault Clio, Peugeot 208, Ford Fiesta, Citroen C3, Vauxhall Corsa, Nissan Micra and the rest of the mainstream supermini crowd. This is a part of the market that had a quiet period, but is now coming to life with the new C3, Micra and Fiesta.
Even if you don’t want an Ibiza, pay attention: this car is the first showing of a new VW platform called MQB A0. That’s a smaller, lighter variant of what’s under all the recent VW Group transverse-engined cars. So the Ibiza’s platform will also carry a new small crossover from Seat called the Arona (launching late in 2017), plus very soon the next VW Polo, Audi A1 and Skoda Fabia, and also petite crossovers from VW and Audi.
Every generation gets bigger, and just as the old Ibiza was as big and heavy as a Mk4 Golf, so the new one is a significant step up from there. But not in length or weight, helpfully. Those two measures stay the same. It’s the longer wheelbase and wider track that boost cabin space and make it feel more stable on the road.
The design, outside and in, follows Seat’s recent angular, sharp-edged, polygonal themes. 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.
Engines are various outputs of a three-cylinder 1.0-litre up to 115bhp, and, on the sportier FR, the VW Group’s new 1.5 four-cylinder at 150bhp. Diesels will follow, but don’t expect them to be popular in Britain.
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. More than half the lineup has a terrific eight-inch media and connectivity system. Full-LED headlamps, phone mirroring and Beats audio are reasonably priced options.
The estate version, which hardly anyone in Britain bought, won’t be replaced. The Arona crossover will do that job. No three-door either, so this five-door hatch is all that’s on offer.
Our choice from the range
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.
Though it’s a little wide for the tightest city streets, at least Seat has kept the length in check while greatly improving cabin and boot space. If you need a roomy supermini this is about your last stop before a Honda Jazz.
The three-cylinder engine will do the job for most people, and it’s quieter and cheaper than a diesel. The urban ride, and motorway cruising, are almost up to the standards of the next class up.
Smooth, brisk cornering is easy, but even the FR lacks the involvement of some older superminis. For that you’ll probably have to wait for a Cupra version. Seat’s bosses are keen on the Cupra sub-brand and see it as an important part of their menu.