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Seat Ibiza

7/10
Overall verdict

The Top Gear car review: Seat Ibiza

n/a

Driving

What is it like on the road?

Seat Ibiza FR red side

Settling into the well-shaped chair – taken from the bigger MQB cars – and gazing across the wide dash, you do feel like the Ibiza has jumped half a size out of the supermini class. Drive it and the impression deepens. 

The long wheelbase and wide track help hold it stable down motorways and over lumpy roads. The ride isn’t soft, but it’s well damped and controlled, and doesn’t toss you about. Road and wind noise are well controlled by supermini standards, but you don’t get close to the mute refinement of a Golf.

The 1.0-litre engine is a sweet installation, emitting typical three-cylinder thrummy sound effects but little vibration or harshness. Even the top-power 115bhp version struggles with top gear on a motorway uphill, because it’s so long-geared for the economy test. On a winding road you’ll often be down in second.

But if you’re prepared to get busy with the gearlever, performance is perfectly lively enough. It does 0-62mph in 9.3 sec. That figure is 10.9 for the 95bhp version available with most trim levels. But since the mid-rev torque of those two engines is very similar, there won’t be much difference in most situations.

The 1.5 turbo in the FR is more than enough for a warm little hatch, and revs happily to its 6,500rpm redline without getting harsh. But the sound is a bit boring compared with the sweet triple. Most of the time you’ll use its mid-rev torque, though. The six-speed manual has a reasonably mechanical feel and you won’t get lost in the gate.

A DSG is on offer for the 1.5-litre FR. That allows the optional radar cruise control to operate right down to traffic-jam speeds. But as there’s no steering assist, the driver still has to be fully on the case. 

Light but sharp steering gives a sense of agility, and it sweeps into corners very accurately with little roll. But there’s not a whole lot of steering feedback as you get to the limit, or much hope of adjusting your cornering line with throttle inputs. So it’s all a bit one-dimensional.

We tried a luxury Xcellence spec on 17-inch tyres, and an FR in the firmer chassis and 18s. The Xcellence actually gives slightly more feedback, but more understeer too. The FR had optional adjustable (but not adaptive) dampers, but the difference between their normal and sport modes is slight.

Wildcard

How about something completely different?

Wildcard

8/10

Ford Fiesta

£15,770£24,130
If handling is your main focus, then you'd better pop down to your local Ford dealer and get into a Fiesta

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