As the Spanish manufacturer’s best-selling car of all time – with more than 5.4 milllion examples sold worldwide – the latest version of the Ibiza is an incredibly important car for Seat. To give it an extra bit of edge over its rivals, plenty of new tech has made its way on to the supermini – which is now being offered solely as a five-door.
Seat is making a particular song and dance about the fact that the latest Ibiza is the first vehicle in the wider Volkswagen Group to make use of the new MQB A0 platform. This means the B-segment car not only benefits from greater space in the cabin, there is also a host of new toys that would normally only be found in more premium cars on offer – such as wireless phone charging and a range of safety equipment.
Looks and image
As far as design is concerned, the fifth-generation Ibiza is more evolution than revolution when compared with its predecessor. It has a distinctly more grown up appearance, with sharp creases and triangular motifs contributing to a purposeful and sporty stance – particularly on FR models – although it would be a bit of an exaggeration to say the new car was hugely different from the old one.
In typical VW Group fashion, build quality feels sound throughout the car. While the cabin isn’t particularly exciting, it’s functional in its layout, with all key controls within easy reach of the driver. A new eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system dominates the centre of the dash that is responsive and easy to read. Top-level cars benefit from a swanky BeatsAudio sound system, too, a feature that will no-doubt appeal to audiophiles.
The main let-down about the new Ibiza’s interior is the seating. While the driving position itself was okay, the base of the seat was tilted up towards the steering wheel at a strange angle and even after a fair amount of adjusting it was still difficult to find a properly comfortable driving position.
Space and practicality
One of the key benefits of the new MQB A0 platform is the fact that interior space has been increased over the last model, while the overall length of the new Ibiza is a smidge shorter than before. Head- and legroom in the back have improved over the older car, and two adults could easily sit in relative comfort on longer journeys. The fact that the Ibiza is now offered solely as a five-door also means accessing the rear is a far less exhausting procedure.
Boot space has also been increased, with the latest Ibiza offering buyers a considerable 355 litres of storage capacity. Not only does this mean the Seat has more rear storage space than anything else in its class, it also beats the larger Ford Focus from the class above, and is getting very close to the Volkswagen Golf’s 380-litre boot. Well done, Seat.
A bevy of safety tech also features on the latest Ibiza, with all models benefiting from Emergency Brake Assist, Front Assist and Multi-Collision Braking systems as standard.
What’s under the bonnet?
At launch, Seat will offer the Ibiza with a choice of three different petrol engines, with varying power outputs. The entry-level motor is a 1.0-litre MPI unit that develops 74bhp, while a 1.0-litre TSI is also available with either 94bhp or 113bhp.
Our test car was fitted with the range-topping 1.5-litre EVO engine, which produces a considerable 148bhp. This is a smooth and refined power plant, and is capable of getting the Ibiza to up to speed with little fuss.
Seat will also introduce a 1.6-litre diesel engine at a later date, although as is usually the case in this segment of the market it is unlikely it will be as popular as the petrol engines.
Behind the wheel
Out on the road, while there’s no denying that the new Ibiza is a capable little car, it doesn’t exactly ooze character – even with the peppier 1.5-litre, 148bhp engine that was fitted to our test car.
That said, its on-road manners were impressive. The steering set-up, while light and rather lacking in feedback, was responsive and allows you to point the car where you want it to go with little fuss. Through the tighter bends that were a common feature of our Spanish test route, the Ibiza felt planted and composed, with only a small amount of body roll making its presence felt.
While the Ibiza’s light controls meant that it was easy to manoeuver at low speed, its small wing mirrors and narrow rear window meant that visibility wasn’t as good as you might expect from a car that has been designed to spend most of its time pottering around busy urban centres.
Out on the motorway, the Ibiza didn’t feel nervous or skittish, and the 1.5-litre engine was refined and more than capable of getting the supermini up to speed in a timely fashion. That said, there was a noticeable amount of wind noise at cruising speeds, and the larger 17-inch alloys did cause a fair amount of tyre roar.
Value for money
Seat will offer the new Ibiza in five different trim levels in the UK – S, SE, SE Technology, FR and XCellence. Prices for the latest version of the supermini start at £13,130 and rise to £17,310 for the top-spec XCellence models. That said, prices are yet to be announced for the sporty FR models with the powerful 1.5-litre engine that we tested.
Seat is predicting that the mid-range SE Technology trim level will be the most popular in the Ibiza line up. Prices for this model start at £14,660 for the 74bhp 1.0-litre MPI engine. At this trim level, some of the standard features buyers will receive include the new eight-inch touchscreen infotainment system, satellite navigation, automatic headlights and 15-inch alloy wheels.
Who would buy one?
With the new Ibiza, Seat has its sights set on outgoing, younger buyers who are after a stylish and fairly-well equipped hatch that won’t cost an arm and a leg to buy. From an objective point of view, the Ibiza ticks a lot of the boxes that should make it a success. It’s practical, relatively affordable and with the right engine, won’t cost the Earth to run either. Sure, it may not be the most fun car in the world to drive, but that issue will no doubt be resolved when the next Ibiza Cupra hot hatchback eventually arrives.
With the new Ibiza, Seat has produced an incredibly capable little B-segment car. It’s stylish, practical and very well-mannered on the road – even if it doesn’t inspire the same sense of fun as some rivals in this segment do. It’s not without fault, however, with a dull cabin and awkward seat position (at least in our case) causing the Ibiza to lose a few marks. Orders for the new Ibiza open in May, while customer deliveries begin in July.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
Model as tested: Seat Ibiza FR 1.5 EVO 150
Max speed: TBA