Stylish, practical supermini estate has joined our fleet in time for the warm weather and the holiday season

The latest addition to 
our fleet promises to bring a welcome dose of Spanish sunshine to the Auto Express car park. And with its sleek looks and racy Latin temperament, the SEAT Ibiza ST has all the ingredients to 
make itself as popular in the Tennant household as the 
recent spell of warm weather.

It’s certainly made more 
of an impact with friends and family than the Toyota Auris it replaces. In addition to practical supermini estate credentials, the car has genuinely eye-catching styling – particularly the bold slashes in the flanks. Plus, our model’s £145 optional 17-inch alloy wheels provide even 
greater kerbside appeal. 

Things are equally stylish inside. A sweeping dashboard, smart circular air vents and chunky three-spoke steering wheel all help create a sporty atmosphere. If only the ST 
came with as much standard equipment as the Auris.

Over the past few months I’ve been spoiled by the Toyota’s list of gadgets, which included sat-nav, 
a reversing camera and climate control. In contrast, our SEAT – a range-topping Sport – feels like an entry-level model, especially when you take into account 
some of the low-rent plastics.

Still, essentials such as air-conditioning and electric windows are included in the 
list price. And what the Ibiza 
lacks in executive car equipment it makes up for with load-lugging ability. On a recent golf trip, my partner easily stowed two sets of clubs in the spacious 430-litre boot. Better still, folding the rear bench flat frees up a maximum 1,164 litres of carrying capacity 
– a figure that matches models from the class above.

Unfortunately, the ST can’t hide its supermini origins when it comes to space for occupants. While those up front get plenty 
of head and legroom, passengers in the rear can feel a bit cramped. 
I have managed to squeeze three teenagers into the back seat, but it could get uncomfortable on 
a long journey. One thing that isn’t in short supply is straight-line pace. Under the SEAT’s bonnet is the same 104bhp 1.2-litre turbo that attracted so much praise in our Skoda Yeti

It’s got only a handful of miles under its belt, but already the powerplant’s smooth and eager nature is impressing anyone who climbs behind the Ibiza’s wheel. And it’s not all about performance, either.

Take a look at the tailgate 
and you’ll spot a small Ecomotive badge, which means efficiency-boosting kit such as stop-start 
is fitted as standard. The system isn’t as intuitive as that in the Auris, with its CVT auto box – in the ST, you have to remember to select neutral at the lights and take your foot off the clutch – 
but CO2 emissions of 119g/km prove it’s effective. Economy is less impressive, as I’ve managed only a disappointing 31.2mpg so far. This is a long way short of SEAT’s 55.4mpg claim, although it’s worth noting that most of my miles have been racked up in London traffic. I expect this to improve as time goes on. And I look forward 
to stretching the Ibiza’s legs 
on some longer trips.

After the dependable Auris, 
the sparkling SEAT is a breath of fresh air. And I hope my feelings towards it remain just as warm in 
12 months’ time.

Second Opinion

“Star of the show for me is the Ibiza’s 1.2-litre TSI engine. On the move, this refined and punchy turbo feels like a much bigger unit. And it’s sure to do better at the pumps as we put on more miles.”

James Disdale, Deputy Road Test Editor

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