This was in part to build Volkswagen models for export, but what Seat really wanted was its very own model for global exports. However, rather than building such a car all alone or simply restyling an existing Volkswagen model, it approached established firms around Europe for help.
Thus the Ibiza was born. It was built around adapted underpinnings from the Fiat Strada; the body was penned by Giugiaro’s Italdesign team and its production was done by Karmann, while the design of a brand new engine was outsourced to Porsche.
This resulted in what Autocar described on 18 August 1984 as “a highly professional, complete and challenging” three-door hatchback of the Peugeot 205 kind.
This “careful, functional” design, “in both the proper, original engineering sense and the modern, debased sense of styling” was “paramount”, we said.
The Ibiza’s engine options were 1.2 and 1.5-litre four-cylinder Porsche petrol units with “relatively high” power outputs of 63bhp and 86bhp respectively, and a 55bhp 1.7-litre diesel of Seat’s own. All but one model used a five-speed Porsche manual gearbox, sending drive to the front wheels.
The suspension was “interesting”. It was conventional at the front, with coil springs and struts and no anti-roll bar, while the rear was quite unusual, being “strut and bottom wishbone geometry, but sprung with a transverse leaf located at the wishbone pivots with its centre free to move vertically, constrained upwards only, by a block of ‘rubber’, acting when it is compressed as a droop limiter, so that the spring acts as an anti-roll device”.
The interior, while lacking the Mediterranean flair we had expected, was still somewhat odd, with headlight switches, indicators and wipers on two spurs of the steering column surround, leaving just the heating controls conventionally on the dashboard, although we found this layout “to work well, once you have got used to the unusual positionings”.