Of the cooking engines offered by Seat in the Ibiza, the best is the 1.4-litre, 16-valve unit with five-speed manual gearbox. It’s as conventional as they come, with a reasonable power output and torque.
Through a quite demanding test route the Ibiza 1.4 returned 35.8mpg. Better still, on our touring route, consisting mostly of motorways taken at 70mph, it returned 44.1mpg.
Unless you have to shop at the budget end of the range, we’d avoid the three-cylinder 1.2 petrol engines, while the 1.2 TSI pushes the purchase price up too high for an Ibiza of such modest performance. The 148bhp 1.4TSI is only available linke dto an auto box, and is best avoided unless you are determined to have that configuration.
The 1.2-litre diesel engine will be a popular choice, especially in Ecomotive form – the claimed average mpg matches that of the Polo Bluemotion, while the CO2 figure is low. You’ll not get anywhere in a hurry, though, as a 0-62mph time shy of 14secs proves. The 1.2 also sounds a little agricultural, especially at low speeds.
Tempting as the Ecomotive is to anyone looking to cut their motoring costs, the standard 1.2 diesel is cheaper to buy, almost as fuel efficient, but its emissions do mean you have to pay road tax. It is also the best-selling engine on the estate, providing just enough power to haul the car along when fully laden.
The 1.6 TDI provides the decent compromise between the two other diesel models that its capacity would indicate. It copes more adequately with the estate's mass and is certainly frugal. However, it is not the most refined oil-burning powerplant, and can be quite noisy.
The top end 2.0 TDI CR may lack a bit of sparkle under the bonnet, but to many, this car’s economy and emissions performance, as well as its commendable straight line shove, will be persuasive enough to outweigh that.
The high-revving 178bhp 1.4 TSI engine is the most successful and enjoyable aspect of the Cupra. Our acceleration figures show that a 0-60mph time of 7.0sec is entirely achievable even with two occupants, but outright speed isn’t its greatest achievement. The 1.4 TSI’s real success is in its usability.
The standard DSG gearbox works best when it’s least taxed, at slower around-town speeds and normal driving. It also works well enough in normal ‘D’ mode if you plan on some more spirited driving, but the supposedly sporting ‘S’ mode frustrates, hanging onto gears too long and occasionally getting confused by a sudden throttle input and throwing the car off balance.