SEAT Ibiza Anniversary Edition 2024 review: a so-so celebration of the Spanish supermini
The Ibiza's 40th birthday isn't quite as spectacular as we'd like
The Anniversary Edition is SEAT’s big 40th birthday present for its most cherished offspring, and yet we can’t help but feel it misses the mark. Even in not-for-UK 1.5-litre TSI guise, the Ibiza feels like it needs a little more power in order to exploit its well-balanced chassis. Still, UK buyers not fussed by straight-line speed may find appeal in the Anniversary Edition’s bolstered sports seats, exclusive paint and other styling enhancements – a good thing, as these are the only real differences compared to the standard car.
SEAT has appeared a little stuck in the mud in recent years; all of the Volkswagen Group’s other mainstream brands have decided to embrace the future and offer at least one electric car, whereas SEAT’s entire line-up remains predominantly petrol-powered.
This ostensible inability to let go of the past is perhaps no better represented than by the new SEAT Ibiza Anniversary Edition – a limited-run version launched to celebrate the 40th birthday of the brand’s best-selling model.
So, what’s new? Well, you’ve probably noticed the car’s Graphene Grey paint which features heavily on models from SEAT’s performance brand, Cupra. Speaking of which, the Anniversary Edition also gets a pair of front sports seats that look to have been pinched almost directly from the electric Cupra Born EV. Aside from looking and feeling a lot plusher than the Ibiza’s standard fare, they hug your figure nicely and immediately make the Anniversary model feel a lot more purposeful from behind the wheel.
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In a bid to further enhance the pseudo hot hatchback feel of the Anniversary Edition, European cars like the one we drove get a 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol engine, also found in the warm Skoda Fabia Monte Carlo. This powertrain was discontinued in the UK a while ago, though, meaning we’re offered a pair of less powerful 1.0-litre units that are already available in the rest of the Ibiza line-up. There’s a choice of 94bhp and 108bhp outputs, with the latter reaching 62mph in around 10 seconds.
The absence of the larger engine isn’t as much of a shame as you might imagine, though, as despite the perceived extra oomph, the 1.5-litre model fails to deliver any more driving enjoyment than the standard car.
The DSG gearbox fitted to our car is also available with the more powerful of the two 1.0-litre engines, but we’d recommend sticking with the manual as, in true Spanish fashion, the automatic likes to take a siesta right when you need it most. Floor the throttle and you’ll be met with a delay, followed by an unpleasant groan from the engine whilst the transmission flounders to find the correct ratio.
Regardless, we’ve always liked the way the Ibiza drives, and that’s still the case even seven years after this fifth-generation car launched. The steering is consistently light – even in Sport mode – but it’s quick and direct nonetheless, meaning the SEAT feels a lot more eager to attack a twisty road or dart between city traffic than the comparatively sedate Fabia. Refinement is also impressive for a car of the Ibiza’s size, although we noticed the car’s FR sports suspension could feel a bit firm over bigger bumps.
Being based on that highly-specified FR model, the Anniversary Ibiza gets a long equipment list which includes a pretty configurable digital instrument cluster, dual-zone climate control and a reversing camera – not to mention a small smattering of ‘Anniversary Edition’ trinkets like exclusive kickplates.
Although the Ibiza may be getting on a bit, it's still reasonably practical with decent space in the back and a deep, 355-litre boot. Quality is good, with separate buttons for the climate controls, which are a welcome inclusion. Less commendable, however, is the laggy centre touchscreen which had us prodding at it like you would the ‘close doors’ button on a lift when a stranger is fast approaching.
While UK pricing is still to be determined, we reckon the only thing it’s really missing is a more exciting engine, which would doubtless make it a more fitting tribute to the cheeky and youthful attitude of the eighties original.
|SEAT Ibiza Anniversary Edition
|From £23,000 (est.)
|Seven-speed dual-clutch auto, front-wheel drive
|7.9 seconds (est.)