Long-term test review: SEAT Ibiza

19 Feb, 2016 1:00pm Sam Naylor

First report: Freshly facelifted SEAT Ibiza supermini joins our fleet, and makes instant impression

Verdict

3
The Ibiza is likely to be a popular addition to our fleet, thanks to its sharp looks, peppy performance and low running costs. It’s not as upmarket as a Polo, but the youthful appeal and long list of kit mean the SEAT’s the sort of car that lets you downsize without compromise.

Mileage: 2,699
MPG: 57.6mpg (official)

The Ibiza has always been SEAT’s core model – it was the first car brought to the UK by the brand, back in 1984, and has proven a strong seller ever since. Over the coming months of testing, we want to find out if the latest supermini has what it takes to beat rivals like the Ford Fiesta and Mazda 2 in a very competitive market.

We headed up to Motorvogue Bedford to collect our car and were greeted by sales controller Darren Dennison. “Young people love the Ibiza,” he told me. “They like its looks and the smartphone connectivity, too.”

You can see why younger drivers would love it – our car’s white paintjob looks cool and modern, while SEAT’s signature light and grille design gives it an edge over its Volkswagen Polo and Skoda Fabia cousins when it comes to sporty styling.

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This is the Connect model, which gets Apple CarPlay and sat-nav as standard. The previous Ibiza had its screen stuck in a cheap-looking, dash-mounted cradle, but this updated version offers an integrated system, which is easy to use and features crisp graphics. It took just seconds to enter the address for our central London offices, then Darren showed us how to sync our phone to the system, and we were away, listening to our music and following the simple instructions that appear in between the instrument dials. Traffic alerts made sure we remained on schedule, too.

The journey back along the motorway, and then through town, gave us the chance to see how this latest Ibiza drives – and it impressed on both counts. It’s moderately quiet at speed and feels at home cruising at 70mph. In traffic, the small size means you can nip into gaps when needed, too.

The engine produces just 89bhp, but thanks to an impressive 160Nm of torque at just 1,400rpm, it feels quicker than the stats suggest. It’s good for driving in town, although on the motorway, you still need to plan your overtakes carefully. It runs out of puff at higher revs, which can be disappointing when you finally make it out of the traffic jams and on to a quiet B-road.

SEAT Ibiza review

That said, it’s smooth and eager, plus the five-speed gearbox benefits from a slick action, giving easy access to all the available power. Unfortunately, the Ibiza isn’t quite as good to drive as the Fiesta or Mazda, but it’s still very composed, just like the Polo it’s based on. The steering is well weighted and there’s plenty of grip, although it lacks the fun factor of its rivals.

One of the key benefits of the car is its running costs, with road tax setting you back only £30 a year. And while we haven’t yet had the chance to run a representative check on fuel consumption, SEAT’s claim of 57.6mpg means we shouldn’t have to make too many trips to the petrol station.

And then there’s the price. At £14,620, the Ibiza looks decent value for a car that packs many desirable features, such as sat-nav, alloys, air-con and a leather-trimmed steering wheel. Oh, and a Samsung Galaxy A3 mobile phone – yes, really. The only glaring omission is a DAB radio.

We’ve also opted for the £150 Blue Pack that adds coloured accents to the wheels, door mirror housings and grille surround, plus the £230 Convenience pack that brings useful extras such as automatic lights.

We’re looking forward to putting the little SEAT through its paces on our fleet, as it’s left such a good first impression. With last month’s frozen temperatures and more bad weather guaranteed before winter’s out, we just hope we won’t have to spend too much time in the cold with a bucket and sponge keeping the white paint clean...

*Insurance quote (below) provided by AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old living in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.

Key specs

  • Model: SEAT Ibiza 1.2 TSI Connect
  • On fleet since: December 2015
  • Price new: £14,620
  • Engine: 1.2-litre 4cyl turbo
  • Power: 89bhp
  • CO2/tax: 116g/km/£30
  • Options: Blue Pack (£150), Convenience Pack (£230)
  • Insurance*: Group: 13, Quote: £462
  • Mileage: 2,699
  • Economy: 57.6mpg (official)
  • Any problems?: None so far