SEAT Ibiza review
The SEAT Ibiza is a stylish and affordable alternative to superminis like the Ford Fiesta and VW Polo
The SEAT Ibiza was styled by the former design boss of Lamborghini and is a great-looking car, with sculpted bodywork and slanted headlights that set it apart from rivals like the Ford Fiesta, VW Polo and Vauxhall Corsa. It's available as a stylish three-door SC model, a more practical five-door and an even more practical ST Estate. Four trim levels are available – E, S, SE and FR. Entry-level E and S models are sparsely equipped, but SE versions add alloys. Top-spec FR models get the option of a fast but frugal 141bhp diesel engine or 148bhp petrol, which turns the Ibiza into an entertaining warm hatch. The three-door model is also available as a 178bhp Cupra hot hatch, which gets a seven-speed DSG gearbox and a 0-62mph time of 6.9 seconds.
Our choice: 1.2 TSI FR SC 3dr
The Ibiza is one of the sportiest-looking superminis you can buy, particularly if you opt for the high-performance FR version, with its distinctive alloy wheels and agressive bumper design. It's easily as stylish as the Ford Fiesta, and its sharp creases makes the VW Polo look plain. The interior is spacious and the driving position is spot on, but taller adults will be disappointed by the headroom in the rear seats. The dashboard is neatly styled, though, and a facelift towards the end of 2012 brought an improvement in the quality of materials used.
The quickest Ibiza you can buy is the Cupra model, which is powered by a 178bhp 1.4 TSI engine. In conjunction with the seven-speed DSG auto, it can sprint from 0-62mph in 6.9 seconds. The petrol and diesel FR models meanwhile manage this feat in 7.6 seconds and 8.2 seconds respectively. The firm suspension and accurate steering can become uncomfortable over time but the facelifted Cupra, which arrived at the beginning of 2013, does feel more softly sprung. Elsewhere in the range, the 1.2-litre diesel Ecomotive version is worth considering. Its lightweight and torquey diesel engine make it surprisingly good fun on winding roads
The Ibiza put in a strong performance during Euro NCAP crash tests and was awarded five stars for occupant protection. Its overall score of 91 per cent is also impressive compared to its supermini rivals. However, the pre-facelift model placed a very disappointing 91st in our 2012 Driver Power survey, with owners complaining about build quality and reliability problems - something that should have been addressed with the recent refresh.
The three-door SC has a 284-litre boot, while the five-door manages 292 litres but does compromise a little in terms of styling. Both have a maximum load area of 847 litres with the rear seats folded, but if you want even more space, the ST estate model offers 430 and 1,164 litres of space. All versions offer a reasonable amount of room inside, but getting into the back of the three-door can prove tricky. The interior layout was updated with the 2012 facelift, with a number of useful cubbyholes. Unfortunately, the fiddly and unintuitive stereo remains.
The 1.2-litre diesel-engined Ibiza Ecomotive will return 80.7mpg, which makes it one of the most fuel efficient superminis money can buy. Equipment levels are reasonable, and in like-for-like comparisons with cars like the Volkswagen Polo, the Ibiza is typically much cheaper to buy with lower list prices and competitive finance offers. Five-door models command a small premium over their sporty SC stablemates, but hold their value better, which means they are worth more when it's time to sell them on.