After driving the 2018 Seat Ibiza SE, a well-off solicitor friend was telling me that he had just ordered a new car. “It’s an Audi RS6,” he said. The quiet pride on his face rapidly faded, however, when he saw my grimace.
Neil Lyndon drives the All-new SEAT Ibiza and doesn’t find anything wrong with it.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Have you checked the Warranty Direct website for its findings on that car?”
“No, why should I?”
“Because you will find that, in common with many sophisticated, high-performance cars, the RS6 is vulnerable to failings in a number of key areas – most notably for suspension failures as a result of Britain’s appalling pot-holed roads.”
“Oh dear,” he said. Then he shrugged. “Oh, well: it’s ordered now.”
I was thinking about this conversation while enjoying the new 2018 Seat Ibiza SE 1.0 TSI which had come to me for a week’s loan. If I were in the market for a new car, there are many reasons why I would choose this mildly refreshed version of the VW Polo before an RS6 (not least the £65000+ price difference) and one of them is the fact that its independent McPherson-type front suspension with coil springs and hydraulic shock absorber and its semi-rigid rear axle with coil springs and hydraulic shock absorber simply mopped up all the lumps, bumps and irregularities it encountered during its time in my hands. I live in Fife in Scotland, where the council is as strapped for cash as the Greek government and the pot-holed roads equally resemble minefields. The Ibiza wasn’t bothered once.
If you enjoy driving, moreover, and you like to feel some sense of communion with a car – a physical feeling that you are at one with its performance and handling – the Ibiza is far more rewarding than the RS6, which needs so many electronic restraints and guidance systems to make its powers tractable that all physical communication seems to be sieved through a blanket of anaesthetics to such an extent that you can’t really feel anything.
Previous generations of Ibiza have been saddled with puny engines in the lower, cheaper reaches of the range; but the 95 bhp 1.0-litre TSI petrol engine is brilliant for this supermini. With 160 Nm of torque, it pulls powerfully even from very low revs. Such a titchy engine naturally demands the quite active use of the gearstick to maintain progress, but that’s no hardship with a five-speed manual gearbox that is a precise pleasure to operate.
Better quality plastics, an upgraded infotainment system and a more stylish climate control panel make this Ibiza look and feel less austere inside, while LED tail lights and daytime running lights now come as standard. New varieties of 16″ and 17″ alloy wheels are on offer along with two fresh paint options. ‘Colour Packs’ that match interior trims to exterior body colours now include such exotica as deep brown and rich purple, include ‘Bismuth’ (an elegant shade of brown) is among them, as is ‘Velvet’ (a rich purple).
A new ‘MediaSystem plus’ and sat nav system can be twinned with the ‘MirrorLink’ function, which provides seamless smartphone integration into the car infotainment system. Also on offer are a Tiredness Recognition System and Multi-Collision Brake system.
Seat claim combined fuel economy of 60.1 mpg with the CO2 figure at 106g/km. My own figure for fuel consumption was closer to 52. Even so, this Ibiza would be cheaper to run than an equivalent Fiesta and cheaper to buy. The £14595 base price was inflated by almost £1500 on our test car, mainly by all that trick communications gizmometry.
But if you’re saving the best part of £50,000 by depriving yourself of an RS6, you could afford to treat yourself to a shedload of flash extras in the admirable Seat Ibiza.
Car reviewed: 2018 SEAT Ibiza SE 1.0 TSI 95 PS 5-speed manual – Base Price On the road £14,595 price as tested £16,575 0-62mph 10.9 secs Top speed 113mph Fuel Economy combined 60.1mpg CO2 emissions 106g/km Engine 999cc TDCi 3-cylinder EU6 unleaded Max Power [email protected] Torque [email protected] Transmission 5-speed manual
Performance and handling
Brilliant one-litre engine
Good quality interior
None to think of
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End on: Monday, 25th Feb, 2019 at: 12:32pm