- We like...Value, looks, space
- We don't...Looks cheap in places
Good-value Spanish supermini stands among the best. But will Ford's soon-to-come new Fiesta out-rank it?
Make no mistake: Seat’s new Ibiza is good. Very good. But Seat struggles to find its place among rivals. Much of its problems stems from it, Volkswagen and Skoda sharing the same owner. VW is the class act, destined to reap most sales. Skoda tidies away the honest, sensible and cheap end of the business.
Which leaves Seat as niche-y, sporty, cheaper than VW but not as classy. Its image isn’t as focused. But despite this, the Ibiza’s not short of character. Its swooping lines mark a leap forward over the dumpy-looking old Ibiza and it now closely resembles the Mazda 2. That’s no bad thing, especially since the Seat’s the better looking.
It’s a little longer and wider between the wheels than the old ‘un, making it among the biggest superminis – although Skoda’s Fabia manages the trick of being roomier inside and (slightly) smaller outside. For all that the Ibiza’s boot isn’t particularly generous, meaning that passengers get a big share of the space. In the back it feels as roomy as you’d want from a car of the next-biggest size class, while those in the front have more than enough space, too. The colour scheme helps this, a slab of light-toned plastic on the passenger’s-side of the dash, creating a feeling of space and airiness. The materials used mayn’t be that classy but they look smart enough, while the bits that you touch most – the wheel and gearshift feel good to grip.
The 1.4 SE is pictured and it’s packed with equipment for its £10k price. There’s the air conditioning and full suite of safety gear you’d expect but there are also treats you wouldn’t: a neat pre-wiring socket for your portable sat-nav, and distinctive alloy wheels, to name two.
The chassis is heavily revised and will also underpin the next VW Polo. Overall, the car is 47kg – or 5% - lighter than the previous one yet it feels more solid as it moves along the road. This Ibiza also soaks up the bumps in a way you’d expect only of a bigger car, though not at the expense of quickness and precision. It steers neatly, though there’s little of the full-on sports intent that Seat’s ‘auto emocion’ brand slogan hints toward.
The 1.4 engine is smooth, quiet and revs easily, although steep gradients leave it short of puff even with only a couple of grown-ups aboard. It teams well with a standard five-speed gearshift that picks through the cogs quickly and cleanly.
The Ibiza makes no great strides forward. It is, however, well priced, good looking and likeable. Right now, it’s near the top of its class, beating such strong contenders as Renault’s Clio and VW’s Polo. We’d put the Skoda Fabia slightly ahead of it, favouring that car for its space, solidity and cheap prices. But, with the next Ford Fiesta’s arrival in showrooms only a few months away, we fear that the Seat’s spell of near-top placing may be brief. For now, though, it is a terrific buy.
- Engines1.4 16v
- 0-60 mph12.0sec
- Insurance groups2
Motors.co.uk value verdict: