2012 SEAT Ibiza

30 Mar, 2012 4:23pm Jon Morgan

We get behind the wheel of the facelifted SEAT Ibiza


There’s no question that the SEAT Ibiza is an excellent little supermini. SEAT’s styling department has done a great job updating the firm’s biggest selling model, and while it's not the most distinctive car on the road, it’s certainly one of the more attractive in its class. That 1.2 TSI petrol engine is excellent, too, offering thrills and thrift in equal measure. It’s only let down by the firm ride.

This is the facelifted SEAT Ibiza, which was recently unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show with a fresher look and a more efficient engine line-up.

We've already taken the sporty Ibiza FR for a spin, and now we’ve had a chance to get behind the wheel of an SE-spec model, featuring the firm’s 1.2-litre turbocharged Ecomotive petrol unit. There is a choice of engines available though, including a twin-charged 1.4-litre petrol and the ultra-efficient 1.2-litre TDI diesel. 

SEAT has used the refresh as an opportunity to bring the Ibiza's look into line with the firm’s latest design language. So the supermini gets a new, Alhambra-inspired grille and sculpted 'hawkeye' headlights. The bonnet and flanks also get flowing crease lines, which are taken from the recent IBE and IBL concept cars.

On the inside, SEAT has steered clear of any Latin exuberance, as the designers have gone for a minimalist feel to the cabin. The dashboard is well laid out and simple to use, the plastics are of decent quality and it all feels well built. The new models get updated dials and climate control display but pre-facelifted Ibiza owners will still feel very much at home behind the wheel.

The 1.2-litre petrol engine is punchy and responsive, packing 104bhp and 175Nm torque at 1,550rpm, and it has a joyful little burble with the throttle pressed. It’s no hot hatch, but there’s enough power for a brisk overtake even at motorway cruising speeds. Better yet, economy is decent, too, with SEAT claiming a respectable 55mpg. If you're after even lower running costs then the 1.2 TDI Ecomotive offers fuel economy of over 80mpg and tax-free CO2 emissions of 92g/km.

As you’d expect for a brand that prides itself on being young and sporty, the handling is excellent. But it comes at the expense of ride quality, which feels firm even at low speeds and can’t match rivals like the Ford Fiesta for soaking up bumps.

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Much improved Ibiza seems a good buy until you look at the spec. The price may well have been reduced but so has the spec. Climate control and electric rear windows are on the option list along with 17" alloy wheels and USB and bluetooth on the FR. The old Sportrider works out about £600 cheaper if you match the spec!!! You tried to sneak that one past us Pedro tut tut...........

Everyone appreciates that you need to sell ad space on these pages but damn pop-up's that obscure information with no option to close down are damn infuriating. Come on AE - when I'm trying to access info about a new model I don't want a Ford panel ad in the way (or Mazda) come to that.

... unless you want to pay for the privilege of viewing the website, I wouldn't complain too much. Although the ones that cover the screen and require you hunt out the 'X' are annoying.

The car... not bad. Pricing cheap, but iffy, as was pointed out. Looks nice, but not that memorable.

Looks to be excellent value though I think the current Leon 'Copa' editions are far better value with loads of kit. I do fancy a 1.2TSI in preference to a DPF diesel though

disappointed to see Seat using tom-tom as an option. Navigon, chosen by VW for the up's navigation make a much more sophisticated possibly more complicated to use but more accurate and cheaper to update system. This would put me off the Seat.

It's an odd choice and the Mii, Leon (Copa) and Exeo etc use different superior systems such as the Navigon.

I currently have a tomtom XL Live in my Seat Ibiza (mounted in the dash as shown in the pictures above). It's a great sat nav but you can buy other systems if you want. Seat make different docking units to suit TomTom, Garmin and I belive Navigon also.

Key specs

* Price: £13,465
* Engine: 1.2-litre 4cyl turbo petrol, 104bhp
* Transmission: Five-speed manual, front wheel drive
* 0-62mph: 9.8 seconds
* Top speed: 118mph
* Economy: 55mpg
* CO2: 119g/km
* Equipment: Alloy wheels, air-conditioning, electric windows, cruise control, CD player
* On sale: Now