The SEAT Ibiza has proven to be a successful car for SEAT. In fact, SEAT would go as far as saying that the Ibiza is actually better known than the entire SEAT brand. I suppose that's probably a good complaint to have – after all, don't products play a huge part in making a brand? The Ibiza was first launched during 1984, and since then the manufacturer has sold more than 5.4 million of them. This supermini in its new form shows improvements to style, fuel economy and versatility. This is a fun supermini that should help SEAT's current sales increase climb even higher.
At the moment there are only two engines with various outputs available to the Irish market. The SEAT Ibiza currently comes with either a 1.0 MPI 75hp petrol engine, or a more fun 1.0 TSI engine (available with outputs of 95hp and 115hp). To date, we have only driven the 115hp outputs and we would have to say that it is an impressive offering. Our main test routes were mountains and hilly roads in Barcelona, and in those conditions the SEAT Ibiza certainly did not suffer from lack of power. We even found it to be stealthy in overtaking. These engines are 3-cylinder units, and they seem to return good fuel economies. The biggest sellers in the Irish market will probably be the 95hp models. The 75hp engine is carrying on from the last generation and we found it to be slightly sluggish in that model. We will update information here after a drive in the other models. The 115hp is available with a 6-speed manual box which is good. Hopefully the future will include the 6-speed DSG box which we have driven in Spain. The future will see a 1.5 litre TSI engine - we are yet to drive this and we have been informed that it should arrive towards the end of 2017. We have been told in no uncertain terms that there will be no CUPRA version. We have also been told that there will be a 1.6 litre TDI version - we're not entirely sure if this will come to Ireland, and if it does, we can't imagine that it will be a big seller.
Body control of the new SEAT Ibiza is excellent. Most of our initial test drive of this vehicle was on mountainous roads and our route threw up plenty of twists and bends - the Ibiza should very little body roll on corners, even when taken with a bit of gusto. Another point worth noting - this will be good for the table quiz - the new SEAT Ibiza is also the first Volkswagen Group vehicle to use the MXB A0 platform. For those of you who would rather a VW over a SEAT - this is the platform which has been added to the all-new Polo, so that should give you some confidence as to how good the Ibiza is. The body and the new MQB A0 platform also dealt well with bumps and grooves in the road. We hit no major shocks going over bumpy roads and it proved to be smooth enough. Steering within the vehicle is excellently weighted.
As with the outgoing model, the 3-cylinder engine can be noisy when put under pressure. For some reason, we found the FR model to be loudest in this regard. It seemed to produce a raspy noise and it was not an artificial sound. The FR model also comes with 17" allows, so expect a little more road noise from it (nothing drastic).
The interior quality of the new SEAT Ibiza looks good. The dash in both the Xcellence and FR model has some nice-looking vinyl inserts, but to the touch they do feel slightly cheap. At this point it is fair to say that the trim quality is standard for the segment - in other words, the quality in the SEAT is par for the course in terms of plastics. Where the Ibiza scores well is in what is available with the car - for example, from the second level, the Ibiza is available with Media System Colour - which is their colour touch screen system. The entry level model comes with a 5-inch touchscreen, Front Assist, Aux-in and USB (unfortunately, Bluetooth only comes as standard from level-two/SE trim).
Depending on which level trim you opt for, the new SEAT Ibiza comes with features like Adaptive Cruise Control, Pedestrian Protection, Tiredness Recognition and multi-collision brake. These options would not be abundantly available in the supermini segment. The new Ibiza scored a full 5-stars in the Euro NCAP.
Because of the versatility of the new MQB A0 platform, the new Ibiza has been configured to offer more leg room than before. The overhangs to the front and rear of the car are very short, and because the wheels have been pushed closer to the four corners, the interior now offers more room - most notably knee room to the rear. The front is spacious and comfortable and the back will squeeze three adults in – obviously having just two adults in the back would be more comfortable. There is a transmission tunnel back there, but they have done a good job in keeping it low. The SEAT Ibiza also offers the best boot space in its class at 355-litres.