What's it like?
The Ibiza has always been a pleasant car to drive, even in lesser trims and in lower-output forms, and this remains unchanged with the facelifted version. At lower speeds its steering is light, precise and fast-acting, making manoeuvring and around-town driving effortless.
The steering lacks the additional weighting that you might expect in faster, tighter corners, though, and can feel a little numb, despite the revisions. You can lean on the front end heavily, to the point where the tyres are audibly protesting, and the steering weight and feel will remain relatively unchanged. Not on a par with the fabled Ford Fiesta in terms of engagement, then.
However, there's just enough inherent weight to the wheel to maintain suitable poise and confidence in bends. There's adequate grip at sensible speeds, and the Ibiza corners in a relatively eager manner. This is partly due to the fact that the Seat clocks the scales at a relatively svelte 1043kg, at the kerb, aiding the hatch's agility.
The car's structure also feels satisfyingly stiff; there’s no shudder over bumps, nor any creaks or rattles when pushed harder. This allows the suspension to do its job properly and, although firm, the Ibiza rides in a composed and comfortable fashion. It doesn't protest when flung around and feels assured while doing so, resulting in a car that's hassle-free and mildly rewarding to drive at higher speeds across country.
Even though it's powered by a small, naturally aspirated three-cylinder engine, performance is adequate. The 1.0-litre triple pulls willingly through the gears, all the way to a soft limiter at around 6700rpm. It even makes an endearing growl towards the top end of its rev range but is otherwise quiet and relatively vibration-free.
The 0-62mph sprint takes a pedestrian 14.3sec, but you never feel like too much of an obstruction. Throttle response is swift enough, traction isn't a problem, and the clutch and brake action is easily judged.
Obviously the engine lacks mid-range urge compared with forced-induction or larger-displacement alternatives, but provided you pick an appropriate gear, it rarely frustrates. In third and fourth around town, there’s enough in-gear pull to avoid overly frequent gearchanges.
Loaded up, the engine doesn’t labour excessively, either; it simply soldiers on until the revs being to climb. Those regularly attacking motorways, however, would be far better off with one a more powerful option.
A short-throw but slightly notchy five-speed manual gearbox serves up a sensible spread of ratios, but following some shifts you’ll hear the odd clunk and rattle as the linkages shift around. This slight shortage of mechanical refinement takes the edge off what feels like an otherwise neatly engineered car.
Seat claims combined fuel economy of 54.3mpg, which theoretically grants a range of more than 530 miles. We averaged a lesser 36.0mpg during our test but, given that our route involved a lot of fast cross-country driving, the lower figure doesn't come as a surprise. That still means a full tank will permit a 350-mile drive before refuelling - fine for a small hatch.
At speed, there is some road and wind noise, particularly from around the front pillars, but the Ibiza feels more than refined enough to undertake long trips without becoming an annoyance. Rougher surfaces do project more road noise into the cabin, however, but that’s par for the course.