Supermini of the Year 2017: SEAT Ibiza

The SEAT Ibiza is the 2017 Auto Express Supermini of the Year, with the Citroen C3 and Skoda Fabia commended

SEAT has knocked sister firm Volkswagen off the top spot in the supermini sector for 2017. The all-new Ibiza is the first supermini from any VW Group brand to use the automotive giant’s full-on MQB underpinnings – and to great effect, because the car offers impressive ride quality and refinement, decent practicality, a choice of efficient engines and sharp styling.

Scaling down the design that made the larger Leon so successful has worked in the Ibiza’s favour; SEAT has delivered a striking supermini statement. But there is so much more to the car than good looks.

Under the bonnet is a new 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, available with either 94bhp or 113bhp. We’d go for the 94bhp version because it offers more than enough performance to cope with the relatively lightweight chassis.

Refinement is also good, with the motor pulling smoothly in the mid-range without making much of a racket. Thanks to that relatively low weight, the 1.0 also delivers competitive running costs for the class, with best figures of 60.1mpg and 106g/km of CO2.

If you need more oomph, a sportier 148bhp 1.5-litre TSI EVO engine is available; this still delivers decent economy thanks to smart cylinder-deactivation tech.

However, it’s the Ibiza’s grown-up qualities that impress the most. This is the most spacious car in its class, helped by its 355-litre boot.

SEAT Ibiza - front

The new underpinnings deliver a composed and contented ride, with what body movement you do feel softened nicely by the dampers, making it usable over scarred urban roads and on longer motorway trips.

On top of this, the glossy eight-inch infotainment system moves things on another step in the class. SEAT offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which means there’s little call for built-in sat-nav. And when you’ve got a great set-up like this in the centre of the dash, it makes the Ibiza’s slightly firm plastics easy to forgive. 

Our choice 

SEAT Ibiza 1.0 TSI 95 SE (£14,595)

The 1.0 TSI 95 is the sweet spot in the new Ibiza range, with the willing engine matched by a lovely manual gearshift. We’d spend the extra £150 on SEAT’s Full Link system to get CarPlay and Android Auto, but with Bluetooth, air-con and emergency braking, there’s enough standard kit to go with the Ibiza’s refinement and practicality

Commended 

Citroen C3 

Citroen C3 - front

With its individual design, the new Citroen C3 is a breath of fresh air in the supermini sector. It doesn’t ride or handle quite as well as the Ibiza, but a funky interior and plenty of tech on higher-spec models mean, together with its frugal turbo petrol powertrains, the C3 earns a worthy commendation in this class. 

Skoda Fabia

Skoda Fabia - front

In a sector where a car has to offer practicality at an affordable price, plus lots of equipment and frugal performance, the Skoda Fabia is still hard to overlook. With the same 1.0 TSI unit arriving as in the Ibiza, the Fabia keeps itself at the sharp end thanks to an attractive blend of attributes a competitive supermini needs.

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