SEAT Ibiza SC 1.4 Sport

SportCoupé scores on price – but its first test couldn’t be tougher

Style is the Ibiza’s middle name, so it should be right at the front of our fashion-conscious three-door competition. SEAT’s latest supermini is the first car from the Volkswagen Group to use the platform that will underpin the next Polo, while its styling was overseen by former Lamborghini design boss Luc Donkerwolke. Having already tested the five-door version in Issue 1,021, we’ve now got our hands on the sharp-suited SC, or SportCoupé.

With such impressive credentials, you’d expect it to make an impact, and the new car doesn’t disappoint. It has the same distinctive front end as the five-door, but stands out from the crowd thanks to its wedgy profile and sporty stance.

Climb aboard, and the plain dashboard, neat instruments and comfortable driving position are shared with its more practical stablemate. Sit in the back, and the SEAT beats both the Ford and Mazda for leg space, but headroom is restricted by its sloping roofline. The sporty Ibiza should make up for such sensible shortcomings on the road – so does the SC live up to its racy name?

In pure performance terms it struggles, as its 84bhp 1.4-litre engine is the least powerful here. As a result, the Ibiza takes 11.9 seconds to accelerate from 0-60mph – one-and-a-half seconds slower than the Mazda 2. Our in-gear figures were even more damning, as the haul from 30-50mph in fourth took 11.6 seconds – that’s 2.4 seconds behind the Mazda and 1.1 seconds adrift of the Ford.

This uninspiring performance is just the start of the Ibiza’s dynamic disappointments. The SC doesn’t really justify the stiffer suspension included as standard with Sport trim. Coupled to our test car’s £140 optional 17-inch wheels, it delivers impressive grip and agile handling. But this comes at the expense of ride comfort, as the SC fidgets over uneven surfaces. You feel even the smallest bumps, and the stiff set-up causes the interior to creak, raising questions over cabin quality.

Consolation comes in the shape of precise steering and a slick gearshift, which both make the Ibiza easy to drive. However, the controls are too light and the SEAT doesn’t engage with the driver in the same way as either of its rivals. Try the Fiesta straight after the Ibiza, and the finely honed feel of its controls is immediately evident.

The SC only begins to make sense when you consider the entire ownership experience. Take the average dynamics and slow pace out of the equation, and the Ibiza begins to add up. At £10,295, it’s £1,200 cheaper than the Ford, while its respectable residual value and two-year roadside assistance plan also give it an edge. The question is whether these considerations will make up for the SEAT’s performance shortcomings.

Details

Price: £10,295Model tested: SEAT Ibiza SC 1.4 SportWHY: Ibiza SC is bigger than its rivals here, and blends style with a top-value price tag.

Economy

Value for money is a SEAT trait, and the Ibiza upholds this. At £10,295 it’s the cheapest three-door, making it a great private buy. While the Ibiza has the highest CO2 of our three-doors, at 149g/km, the low list price means it’s not the costliest fleet choice. Still, the car needs servicing every 10,000 miles – its competitors have intervals of 12,500 miles.

Environment

All our three-doors sit in road tax band C, but SEAT emits the most CO2. Fuel consumption is also the worst of our trio, so it’s the least eco-friendly choice.

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