SEAT Ibiza review

Our Rating: 
2012 model
By Auto Express Test TeamComments

The SEAT Ibiza is attractive to look at and good to drive. SEAT’s supermini also shares its mechanicals with the excellent Volkswagen Polo

Distinctive styling, competitive prices, fun to drive
Poor quality interior trim, stiff suspension, fiddly stereo

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The SEAT Ibiza is attractive to look at and good to drive. SEAT’s supermini also shares its mechanicals with the excellent Volkswagen Polo

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.

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 in place of Teutonic understatement.

In standard form, the Peugeot 208 and Ford Fiesta-rivaling SEAT Ibiza hatchback is available as a five-door only. However, buyers are also able to choose from the even more distinctive looking three-door SC model, or the 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 a Micro-SD card slot for music storage.

In addition to head-turning looks and good value, the SEAT Ibiza also comes with a range of strong petrol and diesel engines sourced from the wider Volkswagen Group. The smallest engine in the Ibiza line-up is a 1.2-litre 12v with 68bhp, while the quickest non-Cupra variant is the 2.0-litre 141bhp TDI, which is only available in the FR model. 

Our choice: 1.2 TSI Toca SC 3dr



The SEAT Ibiza is already a sporty-looking supermini, so SEAT's 2012 updates, which included Xenon headlights with LED runners, new bumpers and a revised cabin, really help the Ibiza stand out from its rivals.

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. While SEAT increased the amount of interior storage, one criticism still levelled at the Ibiza's cabin is that the stereo controls are unintuitive with too many fiddly buttons



While it's not as good 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.

Seat Ibiza FR interior

Some buyers will find the Ibiza's suspension a little firm, but SEAT softened it as part of its 2012 updates. 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 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. 



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


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 1.2-litre TDI Ecomotive diesel is the most wallet friendly model in the Ibiza range, as it returns 80.7mpg combined with CO2 emissions of 92g/km. Even the 141bhp 2.0-litre TDI manages a respectable 60.1mpg and 123g/km of CO2.

The powerful 178bhp Ibiza Cupra doesn't have such strong economy figures, but for a rapid hot-hatch, 47.9mpg and 139g/km of CO2 seems reasonable.

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: 6 Aug, 2014
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