SEAT, the Spanish arm of the Volkswagen group, have been making modest but steady progress in the sales market.
Their super-mini, the Ibiza, has just had a major makeover and should continue the trend.
The car looks much the same as the previous, third, generation, but it has been transformed underneath. New suspension and steering claim to provide a better driving experience (they do); there is a completely re-designed dashboard and interior; there are new engines and a lot more connectivity.
This includes SEAT’s ‘Full Link’ (£150 option) that allows any smartphone to be used in the car through the touchscreen infotainment system and optional SEAT Drive and Connect apps can provide a huge range of information and connectivity from the car itself to the outside world.
The three body styles are SC (Sports Coupe), 5-door, and ST (Sports Tourer –a sort of estate car). Ten engines are available, seven petrol and three diesel.
The first of three variants that I tried was the 1.2 TSI SC. It also happened to be the FR version, topping the trim and equipment range (there’s also the FR Red Edition that displays a host of red accents and trim features in red). Since the opening price for the new Ibiza range is £10,000, it was a bit of a shock to find that this particular car came out at £14,485 before options of more than £2000. Of course, this was to pay for a very long list of comfort and convenience features.
To drive, this Ibiza was an absolute delight.
The acceleration from the 110 PS engine was good, with zero to 62 mph in less than ten seconds; more to the point, it’s road manners we’re exemplary. The steering was light but not too light, and accurate; the handling was to a high standard and it took some very hard cornering (safely carried out, I should add, with no other cars on the road) even to get the slightest protest from the tyres. At the same time, the suspension also soaked up the rough surfaces and gave a comfortable ride. The gear changes were light as a feather and quick as a hiccup and the whole experience was refined and comfortable…excellent feel to the brakes, too.
The fuel consumption over a route with a good variety of traffic conditions was 44.8 mpg, as displayed on the car’s trip computer (official combined 54.3 mpg).
The 1.4 TDI was next. This diesel was the 3-cylinder 105 PS version and, once underway, the initial diesel clatter dissipated and the car was pretty well as quiet as the 1.2 TSI. When pressed, the engine actually gave out a not unpleasant sporty growl. Fuel consumption? This car registered 52.8 mpg (official combined 78.5 mpg).
Also new to the Ibiza is the 3-cylinder 1.4 petrol engine. I drove the Eco95 PS model, while also available is a 75 PS unit.
The engineers obviously knew that a slight drawback to some earlier 3-cylinder engines was their lack of smoothness relative to a 4-cylinder; a balancer shaft has done trick and, although through the exhaust note you can detect that there are only three pots, it’s now a close-run thing. This engine was very flexible and also gave some punchy performance and was fun to play with. I had expected the fuel consumption to be less than impressive, but I ended up with a reasonable 49.5 mpg (official combined 68.9 mpg). Emissions for the three cars driven are, respectively, 119 g/km, 95 g/ km and 94 g/km.
The driver and front passenger have quite good room all-round; it’s a bit of a different story in the back…apart from the agility needed to get in there in the first place!
The boot is typical, the rear seats can of course be easily folded to extend the carrying space, and under the floor is a space-saver spare wheel.
Ibizas, being super-minis, and with the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa in this sector, need to offer exceptional value-for-money, being often bought as a first brand-new car. Potential buyers should compare like-for like and work out which make to go for. The Ibiza appears to be well-finished, and has its stylish new interior and myriad options to choose from, including new exterior and interior colour combinations to help personalise the car.
Overall: an attractive proposition.
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