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SEAT Ibiza ST 2015 facelift review

The revamp of SEAT's Ibiza supermini range extends to estate model. Is it a success?

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.0 out of 5

The Ibiza ST remains a good-looking and pleasant-driving car, while the upgrades to the interior are most welcome. But with models such as the excellent Skoda Fabia Estate around for the same money, it just isn’t as practical as it should be. It also better suits a lower-spec petrol version than this pricey diesel.

Supermini estates still haven’t caught on in the UK. Renault’s Clio estate is sold only on the Continent, and Peugeot’s 207 SW is long gone. The only options are Skoda’s Fabia Estate and sister brand SEAT’s Ibiza ST. And the latter’s just been updated as part of a revamp for the whole Ibiza range.

As with the hatch (driven in Issue 1,398), the ST’s exterior changes are subtle in the extreme. LED daytime running lamps, extra colours and new wheels feature, all of which enhance the five-year-old ST’s existing good looks. There’s no question that the new-for-2015 Fabia Estate is fresher, however.

Inside is where the biggest changes lie, with a new central dash that (for £500 more) incorporates a 6.5-inch touchscreen media and nav system. You also get Full Link, which incorporates Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink smartphone connectivity.

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Best estates to buy now

The facelift brings improved quality, with more soft-touch materials and fewer scratchy plastics. The old Ibiza always felt like a poor relation to its VW Group cousins in terms of cabin execution, but it now fits in well – even if it’s too little, too late.

An ST trump card should be the extra practicality it offers. Yet the wheelbase is the same as the regular Ibiza’s – a model that’s never been especially spacious – meaning rear knee room is still tight for adults. And while the 430-litre boot is well shaped and bigger than that of the hatch, it still lags behind the Fabia’s 530-litre capacity.

The biggest benefit of the chunkier rear end, however, is the improved ride. That extra weight over the back axle meant our FR-spec test car felt more settled over bumps than the firmer hatch, although it’s better still with the SE model’s smaller wheels. The handling doesn’t suffer unduly, either, but it still remains composed rather than fun.

The FR estate’s main problem is that it isn’t available with the brilliant new 1.0-litre EcoTSI petrol engine. We tried the range-topping 1.4 TDI diesel, which remains efficient and punchy, and also seems more refined than before. But at more than £18,000 the newcomer doesn’t look great value, particularly when a 1.2 TSI petrol Connect is just over £15,000.

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