The Seat Ibiza, whichever body style you go for, rides with a compliance that’s partly a result of its tyres’ sidewalls and its chassis, which in turn allows its springs and dampers to be tight enough to control its body movements properly. And that means on the open road, as well as around town, it comes across as a refined, mature-riding car.
Like most of its rivals, the Ibiza’s suspension is by a straightforward, affordable combination of MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam at the rear.
Obviously, grip levels are not particularly high, but the Ibiza does steer with precision and accuracy, and its electrically assisted rack has a pleasant freedom from stiction.
Throw in its good brakes, smooth engine and very slick gearshift and you have a car that is a relatively rewarding thing to punt along. It would be even more so if it just had a little more pace.
Disappointingly for a company that claims its products are defined by their dynamism, the Seat is less competitive in the performance sector.
The Cupra’s chassis and engine combination work well enough. It responds quickly and has ample grip for both road and track driving. But the experience is let down by inconsistent steering weight from the electrically assisted power steering, which reduces the resistance too much at slow speeds, resulting in a lack of feel and precision. This improves at higher speeds as the specially adapted servo weights up the steering, but there is never a real sense of connection.
The Cupra’s handling may not be all that inspiring, but it has a supple ride which betters that of most of its rivals. The well controlled suspension can be caught out on sharp intrusions, but generally it absorbs the worst breaks and undulations with little more than a muffled thump in the cabin.