2012 SEAT Ibiza

We get behind the wheel of the facelifted SEAT Ibiza

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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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