From £9,9407
Seat's supermini gets news engines, a smarter cabin, more tech and some minor chassis tweaks. Styling remains unchanged, though

Our Verdict

Seat Ibiza

The Seat Ibiza is good looking, well-priced and spacious supermini that doesn’t quite live up to Seat’s sporty image

31 May 2015

What is it?

For those of you scrutinising the above photos and concluding that we must have accidentally uploaded the wrong ones, I can assure you this isn't the case. The car you’re looking at is most definitely the new Seat Ibiza. However, aside from some brighter LED bulbs in the tail-lights and some equally luminescent daytime running lights, it doesn't look any different from the old one.

There are a couple of good reasons for this. Firstly, an entirely new Ibiza – new platform, new interior, the works – is due in just two years, so it would make little financial sense for Seat to invest heavily in designing and pressing new body panels. Secondly, and perhaps more pertinently, the Ibiza has always been among the most striking superminis to look at. And if it ain’t broke…

Plenty is new about the 2015 Ibiza, though. Inside you'll find a soft-touch face on the dashboard where previously there was a hard and unappealing grey slab of plastic, and the clunky old infotainment systems have been replaced with brand new and user-friendly touchscreens.

The engine line-up is all but entirely fresh, too. The Volkswagen Group’s 1.0-litre triple petrol joins the range in naturally aspirated 74bhp form and, as tested here, 94bhp turbo guise. A 109bhp DSG dual-clutch automatic gearbox-equipped version is also available, and there are several new 1.4 diesels, the cleanest of which emits just 88g/km of CO2.

What's it like?

It’s fair to say the Ibiza’s dynamic talents have never lived up to its chiselled good looks, and that's largely still the case. Minor tweaks to the spring and damper rates have done little to improve turn-in or limit body lean, and the new speed-sensitive electric steering is also too light and short on feedback.

The Ibiza is still no dynamic masterpiece, then, but its lightweight controls make it easy to drive in the urban environments for which it’s designed, while the suspension tweaks have brought about a more forgiving primary ride. The rural roads on the outskirts of Barcelona aren’t nearly as challenging as an average British backstreet, mind, so we’ll reserve final judgement until we’ve tested the car on our own patch.

Far more impressive than the way the Ibiza handles, though, is its brand new 1.0-litre turbo motor. The 94bhp version picks up eagerly from 1400rpm but will hold even lower revs than that on partial throttle loads without getting flustered. Let the revs build and the power delivery remains linear with no surges or obvious flatspots.

You won't find the performance of a hard-tuned petrol engine here, of course (those thrills are reserved for the hotter Cupra version we’ll be driving later in the year), but both the tractability and mechanical refinement of Seat’s new 1.0 triple are impressive and a promising sign when you consider this engine will be powering Golfs and Leons in the not too distant future.

Seat’s new Full Link multimedia system – standard on Connect trim and optional elsewhere in the range – is arguably just as noteworthy an upgrade. The basic touchscreen, which features Mirrorlink for Android phones, is essentially the same as the one found in a Fabia or a Polo, but in the Ibiza it also gets the brilliant Apple Car Play. This system, essentially the same as Mirrorlink but for the iPhone, 'mirrors' the phone's display on the car’s screen, giving you access to certain functions, including text messages, your music, contacts and a medley of apps.

Should I buy one?

The new 1.0-litre turbo motor is without doubt the new Ibiza's biggest selling point, but the impressive new infotainment system and phone-mirroring features are also big draws.

However, there’s still little about the way the Ibiza steers or handles to get keen drivers excited, and we suspect that, given your choice of review site, this may make you take a step back. Even if it doesn't, the fact that a Skoda Fabia or a Hyundai i20 are bigger and better value for money quite possibly will.

The Ibiza badge won’t be emblazoned on a car capable of challenging the class leaders for at least the next couple of years, then, but Seat’s supermini is certainly a stronger contender that it was.

Seat Ibiza 1.0 TSI 95

Location Barcelona; On sale September; Price £13,245; Engine 3 cyls, 999cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 94bhp at 5000rpm; Torque 118lb ft at 1500rpm; Gearbox 5-spd manual; Kerb weight 1095kg; 0-62mph 10.4sec; Top speed 119mph; Economy 68.9mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 94g/km, 13%

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Comments
4

1 June 2015
The styling changes or the near absence of them are very much in line with the VW Group design ethics. The current Ibiza is the looker of the VW range. At least the designers lethargy doesn't affect that. The current Ibiza had one of the worst interiors in the class. At least that has changed. Although not if you're coming from Skoda or Polo.

1 June 2015
Given the excellent reported fuel / CO2 figures, it might have been interesting to learn what the car returned in Autocar's hands? Let's have a few useful facts instead of all this subjective nonsense about turn in and body roll: I'm sure that neither is a problem to owners who drive their cars properly. It's good to see that SEAT hasn't meddled with the car's appearance and instead concentrated on the important stuff.

1 June 2015
LP in Brighton wrote:

Given the excellent reported fuel / CO2 figures, it might have been interesting to learn what the car returned in Autocar's hands? Let's have a few useful facts instead of all this subjective nonsense about turn in and body roll: I'm sure that neither is a problem to owners who drive their cars properly. It's good to see that SEAT hasn't meddled with the car's appearance and instead concentrated on the important stuff.

Exactly, the Fiesta might be a better drive when on the edge, but how many people drive it like that? Seeing Fiesta drivers everywhere, i can believe that a small number (boy racers) might, but the rest certainly don't. Not everyone wants a Fiesta (or Polo) and for those who want individuality, the changes will be welcomed. SEAT need to carry on these changes to the new model and avoid taking a step back in quality and refinement.

2 June 2015
Head across to Whatcar for a wealth of info on real mpg. Or even Honest John. This new model may not yet have been tested though. Reality for this vehicle is likely to be that the small turbo will either give good economy or good performance, but you will not be able to have both at the same time. If the engine is really zesty and encourages use thereof, then say bye bye to good mpg I reckon. Now a VW Boost Up! would be interesting. No doubt it will appear in due course.

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