First DriveDo revisions to the Seat Ibiza FR add any more spice to this warm hatch? We try the 1.4 TSI version on UK roads to find out
First DriveUpdated Ibiza gets a much-needed interior refresh, chassis tweaks and new options, and proves worthy of consideration
What is it?
This is the three-door version of the new Seat Ibiza supermini, although the company prefers us to call it SportCoupe. The new Ibiza SportCoupe is a handsome design, much sportier-looking than its predecessor and in the mould of the shapely Vauxhall Corsa three-door.
The Luc Donckerwolke (ex-Skoda, Lamborghini) sheet metal is very well resolved with sharp creases on the flanks and gaping air vents in the nose making the Ibiza SportCoupe one of the best-looking superminis.
All the sheet metal aft of the B-pillar is new, including the roof and hatchback, whose rear screen is deepened to improve rearward visibility.
Inside is an attractive, quality fascia with a sporty twin-cowl instrument pack, supportive seats and a comfortable driving position. Rear headroom is a bit tight for six-footers, but otherwise room in the back is similar to the rest of the competition.
Underneath is strut/torsion beam suspension typical of the segment and electro-hydraulic steering.
At launch this autumn, the engines will be cooking petrols – a 102bhp 1.6, 83bhp 1.4 and 68bhp three-cylinder 1.2-litre unit. Diesels don’t arrive until early next year.
The real fire-crackers in the range — the 150bhp FR and 180bhp Cupra — both powered by VW Group’s turbo and super-charged TFSi 1.4, go on sale next February.
What’s it like?
The new Ibiza is the first model based on VW’s new PQ25 supermini platform and these new underpinnings give the Ibiza a grown-up and solid feel, something the old model didn’t possess.
The ride is compliant and quiet, even on the 17in wheels in the Sport specification, and there’s a good level of grip. The natural tendency of the chassis is understeer, although the line tightens gently when power is cut to the front wheels.
The steering is fluent and well weighted, which makes it a pleasant car to drive. Overall, the balance between ride and handling is nicely judged.
Just don’t be seduced by the SportCoupe name. The Ibiza isn’t an exciting car to drive, despite its looks and the image that the marketing men are trying to drum up.
The top spec 1.6-litre motor is a rorty engine, but it doesn’t have enough urge and in give-and-take driving the 1.4 is equally as quick and more cultured. Its 45mpg versus the 1.6’s 42.8mpg helps sway that decision. The three-pot 1.2 is surprisingly eager, too, and rated at a more frugal 47.9mpg.
Not surprisingly, Seat expects the 1.2 and 1.4 to continue to take the lion’s share of Ibiza sales.
Should I buy one?
The Ibiza SC deserves a spot on your buying short list. Its real strength is to offer a VW/Skoda-type grown-up driving experience wrapped-up in much sexier sheet metal.
Seat suggests that prices at launch will be about £300 lower than those of the equivalent five-door, which makes the sexier-looking SportCoupe look good value.
Seat is also promising a keen price/equipment balance to keep its heartland younger drivers on side. Insurance groups look like being pretty young-driver friendly, between three and five.