What is it?
Seat's new Ibiza, the fifth incarnation of the Spanish company's small-car line, is the starting point for the whole Volkswagen Group's next generation of sub-Golf-sized hatchbacks. Outwardly, it builds on the crisp-edged design theme of the larger Leon and the recently-launched Ateca SUV, and underneath it shares a version of the Group's modular and versatile MQB platform, shortened for its new role and dubbed MQB-A0.
This means that while it's a tiny 2mm shorter than the previous Ibiza despite a much roomier cabin, it's also a massive 87mm wider to the point where it's treading on the toes of the size-class above. There's no three-door body style this time, and the former supermini has become a fully-formed family car.
That said, Seat is aiming the Ibiza at a young audience as it has done with previous generations. The company claims its customers are 10 years younger, on average, than those for most rival brands. So the Ibiza majors on connectivity, with FR and Xcellence models featuring DAB radio and a large 8in glass touchscreen to control Apple Car Play, Android Auto and Mirror Link. A powerful seven-speaker Beats audio system is available as an option across all trim levels.
Engines at launch are petrol-fuelled, three-cylinder, 1.0-litre units with 74bhp, or turbocharged TSI versions of these with 94 or 113bhp. The new 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, 148bhp engine launched in the latest Volkswagen Golf – a lower-friction, better-breathing, slightly overbored development of the Group's 1.4-litre unit – joins the range later, as do 1.6-litre turbodiesels with 79, 94 or 113bhp. There'll also be an 89bhp TSI fuelled by compressed natural gas.
Trim levels start at Reference (S in the UK) and progress through Style (SE in the UK) to the twin peaks of the range, FR with sporting overtones and Xcellence with a chrome-accented tilt towards a luxury feel; there's no word on a Cupra just yet. Our first drive majors on the 113bhp TSI engine.