Safe and sensible but not as exciting as it looks

What is it?

Seat’s supposedly more athletic three-door version of the Ibiza, tested here in appropriately dynamic ‘Sport’ trim. Dubbed the ‘SportCoupe’, this has had more than just two doors chopped out, being 17mm lower and 18mm shorter than its five-door sister.

The Sport gets 16” wheels, firmer suspension, leather wheel and gearlever (with aluminium insert), and more bolstering on the seats for better lateral support.

What’s it like?

The extra style does bring some practicality compromises: the SC’s height deficit next to the 5dr is most noticeable in the rear where headroom is limited, and rear legroom is merely sufficient rather than generous for adult passengers.

Soft touch plastics do feature on the dash and add to the high quality feel.


Opting for Sport trim reduces cornering lean and only marginally compromises the great ride quality of the SE, but increased road noise is more of an issue from the wider wheels.

The 83bhp 1.4 litre is an old unit lacking in torque lower down, but it is capable of delivering enthusiastic acceleration above 4000rpm, although becoming thrashy near the red line.

Decent motorway acceleration requires a downshift from fifth to fourth, but engine noise is not obtrusive at the 3000rpm of a legal motorway cruise in top.

Disappointingly, while the chassis is safe and composed, the poor steering limits the Ibiza’s sporting potential, suffering from inconsistent weighting and a lack of feedback.

Should I buy one?

Sport brings firmer suspension settings than lesser models in the Ibiza range, but the extra outlay brings more purposeful looks and a slight reduction in cornering roll.

It’s a safe, sensible car – but not as exciting as the looks and name might lead you to believe.

But if your priorities lie in style over outright practicality and refinement, the Ibiza SC Sport could be for you.

David Campbell

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pablo47 18 September 2008

Re: Seat Ibiza 1.4 16v Sport 3dr

I agree - the engines are well proven and you know what you're getting. Coupled with the updated looks and spec - I agree that the Ibiza does appear to be very good value.

julianphillips 18 September 2008

Re: Seat Ibiza 1.4 16v Sport 3dr

Not so sure. The 'old' engines are probably what makes them so cheap - - this looks fantastic value to me.

Quattro369 18 September 2008

Re: Seat Ibiza 1.4 16v Sport 3dr

This a a classic example of the internal politics at VW spoiling a car. This new car has been saddled with a bunch of outdated, outclassed, coarse engines to stop it stepping on the toes of the VW polo - which is now past its sell by date. The appearance of the ancient 1.9TDi engine is perfect evidence of this, as elsewhere within VAG its currently being phased out. Such a shame for SEAT as whilst Skoda is allowed to prosper with new model and innovations, SEAT have become the real runt of the group. No wonder they cant return a profit! A sell-off from new owner Porsche looks ever more likely...