My first car was a 3-door 2002 SEAT Ibiza. It was painted in bright Yellow and to this day, I still get slagged over it. I named it Samantha and people still refer to it as that. The 1.2 64hp engine was peppy and, with 3-cylinders, felt and sounded a lot quicker than it was. I took that car on track, I went for early morning weekend drives in it and took it to numerous cars and coffee events. It was my first car, I was proud of it. When I sold it, I was sad to see it go but it was time to move on.
When I got the chance to test the 2018 SEAT Ibiza, it brought back some memories. The 3-cylinder 1.0TSI 115hp engine replaces the 64hp unit that Samantha had. The Desire Red paint replaces the “Amarillo Ovni” Yellow of Samantha and the 8-inch touch screen infotainment display replaces the Alana unit boasting a CD player with 6-CD changer. A €500 optional Beats Audio system came on this FR but the sound isn’t shone through due to the rattles and creaks from the cheap plastics on the doors.
I’m not a fan of fake exhausts but they look pretty funky on the 2018 SEAT Ibiza FR. The rear end looks wide with the small lights hiding on the edge of the boot lid. The front end has taken queues from the Leon. The baby SEAT is now grown up with sharp edged headlights, the daytime running lights pronounce this, and an angular grill taking centre stage. The lower grill mirrors that of the chrome one above with fog lights on each side. Overall, it is a mean looking city car. The optional Performance 18” alloys set off the Desire Red paint very well.
But as with Samantha, the 2018 SEAT Ibiza FR is all about the drive. The 1.0TSI engine is seen across the Volkswagen Group family. I have had plenty of experience driving this engine in the Volkswagen up!, Golf, Polo and, even earlier the same week, the 2018 Skoda Rapid. The peppy little 3-cyinder engine packs 115hp but in order to get anything out of it, you need to sit high up the rev range. This isn’t friendly to the fuel consumption but the 1.0 grunts as you rip it around the backroads. In the city, however, it feels sluggish. The small size of the car helps with negotiating the city streets and parking is a doddle.
I returned a fuel economy of 6.9l/100km but, admittedly, this was with a heavy foot. Expect to see closer to 6.0l/100km if you do mostly city driving. Road noise is noticeable at any speed, especially cruising through a suburban area.
As for the brakes, well, if I could erase them from memory that would be great. It might seem a bit harsh knocking a city car for it’s brakes but they made that much of an impression me that I need to address them. In traffic, they are either numb or overly sensitive. Every time I tapped them, nothing would happen so I pressed harder and they would jam on. On the backroads, brake fade seemed as if it was standard, not an eventual occurance.
SEAT Ibiza prices start from €14,995 with this optioned FR coming in at €23,112. As standard on the FR comes bucket-style sports seats and Electronics Pack including light and rain sensors, dimming rear view mirror and heated, electrically folding wing mirrors. Practicality comes in the shape of a 355l boot. This compares to 330l in the Skoda Fabia and 303l in the Ford Fiesta.
Overall, the SEAT Ibiza is a fairly middle-of-the-road car. It’s looks win me over, but the drive leaves a lot to be desired. It’s practical and well equipped but coming in at €14,995, it is almost €500 more than the entry level Skoda Fabia and over €1,600 cheaper than the Fiesta. For a lot of buyers, it will be more than enough car for what is needed but overall, it is an average one for me.