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First Drive

First Drive: Seat Ibiza 1.0 TSI

Seat Ibiza 1.0 TSI 95 SE
The story: Seat’s fifth-generation Ibiza and the biggest selling car in the firm’s history, is a car the brand has high hopes for, with the company’s worldwide boss branding it “the turning point in the segment”.
Key rival:Ford Fiesta
On sale:Now

Seat’s Ibiza supermini has a big job on its hands, with the firm boldly proclaiming it has been designed to be the best small car in Europe.

The foundations are there, because the brand has, unusually, been first to get access to the latest underpinnings that will also be used by stablemates Volkswagen, Skoda and Audi. 

This fifth generation of the Ibiza comes only in five-door form, so there’s no three-door SC model or ST estate as there was with the last car. But there is a focus on connectivity, comfort and safety technology, with Seat also claiming the car is quieter and more refined. 

The launch line-up is petrol-only, given its dominance in the supermini segment and current political and social trends, although a diesel will come later this year, at the same time as an automatic for the petrol engines. There are initially three 1.0-litre petrol units, with 75, 95 and 115hp, plus a 1.5 with 150hp is on the way too. 

As for equipment, top-spec Xcellence trim includes a DAB radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, front and rear parking sensors, keyless entry, dual-zone climate control and a choice of four drive modes. But all Ibizas get the Front Assist and emergency braking systems, plus Bluetooth. 

New Seat Ibiza 2017 - cabin imageThe interior isn’t revolutionary, but it’s perfectly pleasant and a big step up from the old car in terms of quality, especially in central areas, although there are some cheaper plastics on the doors. There’s a noticeable step between the higher and lower trims, especially with the different materials and the front armrest you get with Xcellence.

Rear space is reasonable, with so-so rear legroom behind a tall driver but good headroom, which is an improvement on before. The boot is deep and has grown by 63 litres to a very decent 355 litres. 

To drive, there’s a little road noise but Seat has largely achieved a decent improvement in refinement, while the ride is a touch lumpy. But overall the car handles well while also being happy to take up the challenge of longer runs.  

The new Ibiza also looks good, especially in the sporty FR trim level, which adds great-looking 17-inch alloys. Meanwhile, emissions of 106g/km and a KeeResources residual value of 27.2% put it in the middle of the pack for running costs. 

The new Ibiza is well priced, looks sharp and has plenty of quality to it. It’s certainly one of the better cars in the segment, but maybe it’s not quite the all-conquering game-changer its makers profess it to be.


Paul Barker


The verdict

Good-looking new hatchback that's a very impressive all-rounder rather than excelling in any particular area.