SEAT Ibiza 1.2 TSI

Does the addition of a small turbocharger improve SEAT's sporty city runabout? Auto Express took a drive to find out

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

The new TSI engine has genuine character, and it gives the SEAT a decent turn of speed whether around town or on the motorway. Yet if all you really want is a runaround, you should ask yourself if the TSI is £2,000 better than the basic, non-turbo 1.2-litre model. There’s no doubt it’s a good all-rounder, and worthy of serious thought over a diesel version of the supermini – but we think you can find all the Ibiza you’ll need without spending this much. 

This new small engine aims to make a big impression on SEAT’s Ibiza. On paper, the 1.2-litre TSI unit sounds weedy, but thanks to a turbocharger, it develops 104bhp – that’s 20bhp more than the 1.4-litre petrol version of the supermini, and the same as the 1.6-litre TDI diesel.

The powerplant has recently featured in the Leon hatch, so in the smaller Ibiza it makes a lot of sense, especially with combined fuel economy of 55.4mpg.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the SEAT Ibiza

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With peak torque of 175Nm arriving at only 1,550rpm, it’s flexible. But this version of the Ibiza is no hot hatch rival – as with a diesel, it’s at its best when pulling from low revs. Still, it’s faster than the 1.6-litre petrol it replaces, and also over 10mpg more economical, thanks to the added benefit of stop-start technology.

These qualities make the 1.2 TSI more appealing than the gruff diesel, plus the Ibiza’s usual charms remain. It’s neatly designed, well built and has plenty of space. And while the firm low-speed ride and flawed motorway comfort can grate, this is still one of the best superminis on the road.

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