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This is a new Ibiza?

It may look just like the Ibiza launched in 2008, but Seat’s spruce-up for its best-known model is nonetheless worth talking about. It’s just that most of said sprucing has happened beneath the skin.

Like what?

New engines. Near the top of the range, the FR model gets a 148bhp 1.4-litre turbo engine - much like the Polo Blue GT’s [link] - while the updated Cupra hot hatch, due later this year, will almost certainly use an iteration of the Polo GTI’s 190bhp 1.8-litre.

Being a supermini, though, it’s the cheaper end of the range that matters most. And like many of its rivals, the Ibiza has seen its 1.2- and 1.4-litre engines replaced with small but punchy little 1.0-litre three-cylinders.

There are three states of tune available for the one-litre: a 74bhp version sits in the most affordable Ibiza, but of more interest are two turbocharged versions, offering 94bhp or 108bhp. The former is the only one of the pair available as a manual in the UK, and it also offers 68mpg and a tax-free 94g/km of CO2 emissions, so immediately nominates itself as the best choice. It starts at £13,245.

And is it any good?

It’s a new-age turbo triple by numbers, so yes. It thrums away in the keenly unpolished way most of its rivals do when being worked hard, but also does an admirable job of being quiet and refined at motorway speeds, too.

It can be a little hesitant low down in the rev range, and encountering a few of Barcelona’s more belligerent speed bumps called on a shift down to first gear, a hint that slow moving traffic could require frequent shifting between the bottom two gears.

But once above 1500rpm or so, the engine’s power delivery is nice and progressive, and you’d be hard-pushed to tell it’s turbocharged as speed builds, with no uncouth boostiness. We’re likely to see this engine a lot more in Seats, VWs and Audis, and that’s no bad thing.

How does the Ibiza handle?

As well as it needs to, and no more. There have been tweaks - the introduction of speed-sensitive power steering and a rejig for the suspension - but this remains a car that doesn’t get close to the entertainment of a Ford Fiesta or Mazda 2.

It is, though, uncomplicated, with light steering, small, easy-to-place dimensions and ride quality that’s more forgiving than both the car it replaces and many of its more fun-focused rivals. You’ll often see Ibizas with red L-plates applied to numerous body panels, and with good reason. This updated car does nothing to dent its simple-to-drive mantra.

Does it have killer apps, though?

All but the lowliest ‘S’ spec cars ars get a colour touchscreen media system which, when upgraded to ‘Full Link’ setup, gets Android Auto, MirrorLink and Apple CarPlay, allowing all major smartphones to link up quickly and intuitively, their apps functioning in driving-friendly manners.

How necessary it is to have your Facebook feed dictated to you through the car’s speakers strikes us as negligible (does that make us old?), but easy streaming of your music and the ability to see your phone’s Google Maps interface on the big screen - its functions strengthened by the car’s GPS - definitely has appeal.

Does it turn the Seat into a winner?

The Ibiza’s interior may remain plainly and functionally put together, but this system shines brightly in the middle of it. It won’t sway car enthusiasts, but might attract those who simply seek a good-value, easy-to-drive car that makes little fuss about linking up to their phone. Buy the ‘Connect’ special edition and you’ll get a Samsung smartphone included, too.

Other big-car goodies lies on the options list, with a reversing camera, switchable ‘Drive Profile’ modes and a driver tiredness detector all available.

A considered update rather than an all-new car, the Ibiza is inevitably kept from the supermini Champion’s League as many of its foes - including its Skoda Fabia cousin - enter new generations. But if you place value and tech above driving thrills, there’s still plenty to like here.

What do you think?

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