Seat Ibiza Review 2019

Find out more about the SEAT Ibiza in the latest MOTORS Review

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Out of 5


  • Impressively practical
  • Fantastic to drive
  • Stylish looks


  • Quite expensive
  • Interior quality could be better
  • No hot hatch variant
Model review

The Ibiza is the only modern Seat that predates the Volkswagen Group takeover, with the original Spanish supermini first being revealed in 1984. It was a very stylish car and was designed by famous design house ItalDesign.

The second-generation car — which went on sale in 1993 — was funded, designed and produced by Volkswagen and shared many of its components with the manufacturer’s Polo. It also kickstarted sporty Ibizas, with the Spanish firm putting the same engine from the Volkswagen Golf GTI into its compact hatchback, with the racy Cupra R producing 177bhp - a lot of power in a supermini at the time.

A third-generation model broke onto the scene in 2002, with the fourth-generation car arriving in showrooms in 2008.

Throughout the years, the Ibiza has been known for its stylish and sharp looks, and also for being great to drive — two traits that continue to this day.

Latest model

Seat unveiled the latest fifth-generation Ibiza in January 2017, with sales starting in the summer of the same year. Unlike previous models, this Ibiza was only offered with a five-door variant (as are the latest Volkswagen Polo and Audi A1), while the new model grew in size — being 87mm wider and offering a wheelbase longer by 60mm, although it’s surprisingly 2mm shorter than the model it replaces. This increased wheelbase allowed for a much more practical interior, and a bigger boot, too.

Vast improvements were also made to the safety of the model, while a range of new 1.0-litre petrol engines and a powerful 1.5-litre petrol engine were also offered.

The latest Ibiza was also the first model from the Volkswagen Group to be built on the latest MQB A0 platform, and offered a new and sharper design, with small front and rear overhangs, large alloy wheels and LED lighting.

Since launch, the Ibiza has won a number of awards, including that for ‘Best Supermini’ in the 2018 UK Car of the Year awards. From July 2018, Seat also introduced a new digital cockpit onto the model, which is a customisable 10.25-inch driver display. It adds an extra modern touch to the cabin and aims to relay key information back to the driver. This feature is standard on FR Sport and Xcellence Lux trim levels.

Value for money

Prices for the Ibiza start from £15,495 for the Ibiza, which is a lot of money for a small supermini. However, unlike other models in this class, Seat doesn’t offer the model in the same low-spec trim levels and under-powered engines, which is why the Ibiza takes up a higher price point.

On the plus side, it comes with an excellent amount of standard equipment, including 15-inch alloy wheels, metallic paint, a 6.5-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity and autonomous emergency braking. Top spec models are expensive, though, with FR and Xcellence models easy to spec to over £20,000, which seems expensive for a non-sporty supermini.

The Ibiza has lots of appeal for new drivers and for those looking for a cheap and reliable small car. The most affordable used examples start from as little as £500 for a well-maintained example.

As for the latest model, there are some superb discounts that can be had. At the time of writing, the cheapest fifth-generation car started from £7,500 for a 2017 model with the entry-level engine and trim level, although this still represents excellent value for money. Nearly-new models are also superb on the pocket, with an example less than a year old costing under £10,000 which is thousands off list price. We would recommend spending around £11,000 on the more powerful 94bhp turbocharged petrol engine, though.

Looks and image

The Seat Ibiza has always been a car tailored towards a younger audience, and the latest model’s impressive standard tech furthers this appeal. Seat has also made the Ibiza sharper to look at than ever, but hasn’t been too ambitious with the design. Standard details such as LED daytime running lights and triangular LED rear lights are another nice touch, too. Sporty-looking FR models are the pick of the range where style is concerned, as these come with an FR styling kit, exhaust trim, 17-inch alloy wheels (18s on FR Sport) and LED headlights. They certainly look the part and are as close to a hot hatch as you get within the Ibiza range.

The interior isn’t quite so stylish, although it offers plenty of tech and comfort, which most buyers are looking for. A 6.5-inch touchscreen is fitted as standard to SE models, and offers Bluetooth and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which is excellent on an entry-level supermini. SE Technology cars and upwards add a larger eight-inch touchscreen with satellite navigation and voice recognition. The interior quality isn’t up to the standard of the Volkswagen Polo, with a few cheap interior plastics here and there, but overall, it’s a comfortable and easy to live with interior.

The Seat Ibiza is an excellent all-rounder, and offers comfort and refinement traits rarely found in cars of this size. Even on motorways and at higher speeds, the Ibiza feels superbly composed, and it’s comfortable, too, although the larger 17- and 18-inch alloy wheels can make the car a touch unsettled. It also offers accurate steering, even if it doesn’t provide the same level of feedback as the Fiesta. But with an excellent balance between comfort and excitement, the Ibiza is an easy model to recommend.

Video review

Space and practicality

Spaciousness is yet another accolade the Ibiza can wear proudly. Key improvements have been made to the Spanish hatchback’s cabin compared to the last car, and the 60mm longer wheelbase undoubtedly makes the Ibiza feel like a particularly spacious car.

There’s plenty of room in the cabin for four adults, which is fantastic for a supermini, along with lots of interior storage and flexibility. But perhaps the Ibiza’s stand out feature is its boot space, which offers 355 litres of luggage room. It’s more than most of its key rivals in this class can offer. It’s only the Honda Jazz and new Renault Clio that have a practicality advantage over the Ibiza in this area.

The Ibiza also has an impressive safety record as the Spanish model was awarded a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. It received its highest scores for its adult occupancy protection and it also comes as standard with autonomous emergency braking for extra added safety. FR specification brings a tiredness recognition system and high-spec Xcellence cars come with adaptive cruise control, too.


The Ibiza is offered with a good mix of petrol engines, along with a single diesel unit.

The entry-level petrol engine is a naturally-aspirated 79bhp petrol engine, which is a good choice for city users, but a bit too sluggish to recommend to those driving on faster routes because of its 0-60mph time of 14.5 seconds. The pick of the range is the turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol engine, which offers either 94bhp or 113bhp. The latter is the quickest option in the current line-up, thanks to a 0-60mph time of 9.1 seconds and a top speed of 121mph. The 113bhp engine also gets the option of either a six-speed manual ‘box and or a seven-speed DSG automatic transmission — all other units come paired to a five-speed manual gearbox only.

The diesel engine offered is a 94bhp 1.6-litre unit, which manages a 0-60mph time of 11.1 seconds.

The Ibiza was also briefly available with a punchy 1.5-litre petrol engine delivering 148bhp, although this engine is quite hard to come by.

Running costs

All engines in the Ibiza will be efficient to run, although the diesel will be the cheapest with its claimed 60.1mpg fuel economy figure, and low CO2 emissions of 100g/km. Even the thirstiest engine — the naturally aspirated 1.0-litre — manages a claimed 48.7mpg, and offers CO2 emissions of 112g/km.

The Ibiza should also be affordable to insure. The 79bhp petrol engine is easily the best option for new drivers, as it sits in insurance group two. Insurance groups rise to 12 for the 113bhp 1.0-litre petrol engine.

Things to look for

With Seats sharing all of their key parts with other Volkswagen Group products, you would think that it has reliability at its core. However, while it’s far from being unreliable, the model was hit by a large recall notice which asked for owners of certain VW Group models — including the Ibiza — to not use the central rear seat, as a faulty buckle could unplug the seatbelt. All affected vehicles were recalled in 2018, and the problem appears to have been fixed. Early models were also hit with a software issues, although this was an isolated problem. If you are buying a used model, ensure that both of these have been sorted.


The supermini class is a hugely competitive sector, and the Ibiza has no shortage of rivals. Its closest competitors are its sister products — the Audi A1, Skoda Fabia and Volkswagen Polo — but other worthy rivals are the Ford Fiesta, Mini three-door hatch, Peugeot 208, Renault Clio and Vauxhall Corsa.



With Seat not having the same brand appeal as other VW Group brands Volkswagen and Audi, values for the Ibiza haven’t held up quite so well. That means the Ibiza is a much better used buy next to those two cars, with discounts of up to £5,000 available off nearly-new models, which is impressive for a car of this size.


  1. Sporty and stylish looks
  2. Touchscreen included as standard
  3. Good range of petrol engines
  4. Great used buy…
  5. But top-spec cars are expensive
  6. Fun and comfortable to drive
  7. Interior quality could be improved
  8. Superbly practical
  9. Cheap to run
  10. Simply a superb supermini with very few faults

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