I’ve spent a lot of time recently in the latest crop of superminis, all of which are moving the game on.

untitled1 But the one that gave me a real awakening to the all-round abilities of a modern shopping hatchback was the Seat Ibiza. It's fair to say that it hasn't been covered with glory in the reviews, and I was not convinced by its styling - so the Ibiza had a lot to prove.

And so it did, as I launched it merrily into the trickiest B-road corners that Salisbury Plain can offer.

It says much for modern engineering that an 84bhp, 1.4-litre car weighing 1000kg can be refined on the motorway and capable of covering the best driving roads in the south of England with verve and energy. It was the sort of drive that I'd get up early to do again, for no reason other than that I enjoyed it so much.

The Ibiza isn't a benchmark car, and its in-town ride on the stiffer suspension that comes with 'Sport' trim left plenty to be desired. But the lime green 'sport coupe' three-door won me over with its general sense of fun. And a bit more low-down torque and top-end whizz could transform it into a true backroad weapon.

Particularly when finished in the lurid green of our test car, the Ibiza stands out on the road in way it never did on paper.