SEAT Ibiza review

Our Rating: 
3
3.0/5.0
2015 model
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The facelifted SEAT Ibiza is attractive to look at and good to drive. It also shares its mechanicals with the excellent VW Polo

For: 
Distinctive styling, competitive prices, fun to drive
Against: 
Poor quality interior trim, firm ride, loud diesel engines

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The SEAT Ibiza shares its underpinnings with the Volkswagen Polo, meaning it carries over the majority of its mechanical parts with one of the best superminis currently on sale. The recent facelifted version has received tweaks to the suspension, dampers and big changes to the interior bringing the cabin up to date. 

However, where the Polo has gone for subtle, classy looks, the SEAT Ibiza was designed by Lamborghini's former head of design and offers a smattering of Latin flare. The Peugeot 208 and Ford Fiesta-rivaling hatchback is available as a five-door only, three-door SC model, or a spacious ST estate.

SEAT offers five trim-levels across the Ibiza range, kicking off with the entry level S. This progresses to the mid-range SE and Toca models, and finishes with the range-topping sporty FR model. For buyers wanting more of a driver-focused car SEAT also makes the 178bhp Ibiza Cupra model, which is available as either a three or five-door.

The SEAT Ibiza S is quite basic, and is free of features such as alloy wheels. However, air-conditioning is available as an option. Move up through the range though, and higher-end cars come with standard kit such as Bluetooth technology, sat-nav, and Apple CarPlay. 

In addition to head-turning looks and good value, the SEAT Ibiza also comes with a new range of strong petrol and diesel engines sourced from the wider Volkswagen Group. A new batch of 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engines have been added, while the diesels engines are now even more efficient. 

Our pick: 94bhp 1.0-litre Ibiza SE

Styling

4

The SEAT Ibiza is already a sharp-looking supermini, so SEAT's 2015 updates, which included LED daytime running lights and more personalisation options are enough to keep it looking up to date. Its short overhangs, subtle body creases and angular headlamps mean it's still one of the best looking superminis around despite its age. 

As it's a Volkswagen Group car, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the SEAT Ibiza’s cabin is well screwed together, with plenty of quality plastics used throughout. 

One of the areas SEAT has focused with the updated model is inside. The cabin is now modern and clean with a new colour touchscreen replacing a whole host of buttons and dials. The new media system is also compatible with Apple CarPlay as well as Android Auto, which allows users to operate smartphone functions throw the touchscreen. 

Driving

3.5

While it's not as sharp to drive as the Ford Fiesta, the SEAT Ibiza is more engaging to drive than the sister Volkswagen Polo. It's nimble around town and equally as decent on the open road.

Some buyers will find the Ibiza's suspension a little harsh, but SEAT softened it as part of its 2015 updates to take the edge off the firmness. If, however, a softer ride takes priority, then it's better to opt for the Polo.

The SEAT Ibiza's driving position is excellent, and throughout the range there's not much body roll, and the steering is quick. It wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing though, if the steering provided a little more feedback. The biggest change to the way the Ibiza feels on the road is what's beneath the bonnet. 

So we've only driven the 94bhp turbo version of the 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine, which offers the best compromise in terms of performance and economy. 

The combination of the refined engine and softer suspension means it covers ground with far more poise than it did before. The five-speed manual gearbox is short and snappy, while power from the engine builds progressively. 

Reliability

3

The SEAT Ibiza scored the maximum five stars when it was tested by safety experts at Euro NCAP, and it features a wide array of standard safety features which include front and side airbags, as well as stability control.

In our 2014 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, SEAT finished 24th out of 33 manufacturers. While this is an improvement on 27th in 2013, it's still not good enough considering sister and parent companies Skoda and Volkswagen finished first and 19th overall. 

Practicality

3.2

Despite the addition of two extra doors, there isn't much difference in terms of space between the three-door SEAT Ibiza SC and the standard five-door Ibiza hatch.

With the rear seats up, the SC has 284 litres of boot capacity, which is marginally less than the 292 litres in the five-door. It's even less of a gap with the rear seats down: they both get the same 847 litres of space.

This is about average for its class, and will be fine for day-to-day tasks but might not cope brilliantly when loaded with a lot of luggage. If you want even more space, the ST estate model offers 430 with the rear bench in place, and 1,164-litres of space with it folded.

Running Costs

4.2

SEAT has a reputation for building good value cars, and the Ibiza is no exception. It comes with a decent level of kit, and all of the engines are easy on the bank account too.

The new 74bhp three-cylinder 1.4-litre TDI Ecomotive diesel is the most wallet friendly model in the Ibiza range, as it returns 83.1mpg combined with CO2 emissions of 88g/km. Even the 89bhp and 104bhp diesels manage a respectable 74.3mpg.

Despite the petrol not being as efficient, fuel economy is still very good and the new three-cylinder engine make it a far more enjoyable car to drive. The 94bhp 1.0-litre turbo returns 68.9mpg and is the only petrol engine to dip below 100g/km barrier with CO2 emissions of 94g/km. 

The SEAT Ibiza is available with either a manual or automatic gearbox, the former of which has five or six speeds, depending on the engine size. The automatic DSG system, which was sourced from Volkswagen, has seven speeds. 

Disqus - noscript

I have a Ibiza FR 1.4TSI/DSG. I just do not understand why your reviewer finds the radio difficult to operate, I find it incredibly easy, and I am 81! The car performs excellently with masses of urge when needed, and it handles like a dream.

I'm surprised the Ibiza fares so badly in the Driver Power survey. Having owned them for over 10 years now reliability from my personal experience has been a stand out factor, second only to the excellent real world economy of the old 1.9tdi engine. The first one I owned is still in the family and going strong at 140000miles with very little spent on non wear and tear items. The second one (latest generation) has made it past 30000 miles and its first MOT with zero issues so far. Maybe I'm just very lucky.

VW Polo will be the best buy better with better superb build quality, even though the Seat shares VW bits & WRC winning beating pedigree is a Fiesta beating car.

Can warm to Seat's superb handling, nice price & excellent fuel economy NCAP numbers to die for.

But unfortunately like AE says, "when it comes to reliability, the little Ibiza hasn't fared too well. A disappointing 144th place finish in the Driver Power 2013 survey's top 150 cars list doesn't look good for the car".

VW Polo 2013 WRC winning pedigree, legendary built quality solid as a rock, would be my first choice.

Think you have been believing the propaganda blurb too much. One user satisfaction survey rates all four VW group supermini clones much the same but with the A.1 tending to lag behind. None of them match the class best though.

The only Fiesta worth having is the ST, and that only comes with a Manual gearbox. I have to have a auto due to a disability and the Ibiza FR 1.4/DSG is superb. Your reviewer is biased against Seat and needs to be more objective!!!

Highly unlikely an AE reviewer would be biased against a VW group product! Of the four clones I do think this is the best looking one.

Had a Seat Toca 1.4 since February from new added some extras including Dab which had to be changed. The dealer tries to be loved but most involvement has been unsatisfactory. However just love the car practical,sporty and drives very well. Have had over twenty cars in my time this is nearly the best recommended.

Last updated: 15 Jun, 2015
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