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First Drive

First Drive Seat Ibiza

Ibiza 1.0 TSI 115 FR
The story: Seat isn’t normally the first brand in the VW Group to get the latest tech, but that has changed with the all-new Ibiza.
Category:A Sector (Mini Cars)
Key rival:Ford Fiesta
On sale:June 2017

The new Seat Ibiza’s importance to the company and the wider group has been demonstrated by it being the first car to get the new platform that will form the basis of fellow superminis including the next VW Polo, the Audi A1 and Skoda Fabia as well as small SUVs such as the forthcoming Seat Arona.

The new tech might not be visible, but essentially it means that the Seat Ibiza is lighter and stiffer than before, which results in better fuel economy and, in theory, a car that is better to drive.

This theory translates well into practice, too, because the new Seat Ibiza rides and handles with real sophistication. It soaks up large and small bumps fantastically well, and is barely fussed by fast corners, with body roll kept to a minimum.

When cruising, the cabin is pleasingly quiet, regardless of whether you go for the tried and tested 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engines (available in 95ps or 115ps outputs) or the new 150hp 1.5-litre petrol that first appeared in the latest version of the VW Golf a couple of months ago. The former becomes much more vocal if you start to push the revs higher and ask for some urgent acceleration, but there’s little wind or road noise to disturb you on the move. The UK line-up doesn’t take the diesels offered in Europe.

“Its a lot more grown-up than before, so is now a mature, sensible choice”

Higher-trim models (FR and new Xcellence) are fitted with a Drive Profile system that allows you to tweak the steering and accelerator response, but in reality the increments between the settings are so marginal that they’re barely noticeable. Further down the range, the entry-level S gets a decent level of kit, with Bluetooth, a 5.0-inch touchscreen, auto lights, hill hold assist and emergency braking as standard. It’s well worth at least stepping up to SE, though, to get the smart LED headlights and taillights, split folding rear seats and 15-inch alloy wheels.

SE Technology is the one that most buyers are expected to go for, and its main benefit is the new 8.0-inch touchscreen with satellite-navigation. It ditches all physical buttons bar two dials either side of the screen, so you can zoom on the map and adjust volume without fiddling with a touchscreen. It’s a clear system, but it is easy to brush the touchscreen buttons while using the dials.

The new Seat Ibiza is a very good car on many fronts, with the increased practicality, five-door-only bodystyle and stylish Leon-like looks making it feel a lot more grown up than before. This does come at the expense of some character, but it is a mature and sensible choice.

Space Aplenty

The new Seat Ibiza is 87mm wider, 2mm shorter and 1mm lower than the old car, but has much more cabin space.  This is mainly due to the front and rear axels now sitting 95mm farther apart.

SEAT IBIZA - rear seatsThe rear passengers benefit most, with 35mm more legroom and 17mm more headroom.  You still wouldn’t want to carry three adults back there but there is plenty of room for two.  Front-seat occupants get 24mm more headroom, whilst Seat has also made the seats 42mm wider than before to boost comfort.

The cabin has the usual array of cubby holes and cup holders on offer, even if the latter are rather shallow, but nothing particularly clever.  There’s more room in the boot too with a decent 355 litres when the rear seats are up; that’s larger than the Fiesta, Fabia and Polo boots, and more than even the Ford Focus has.  There are no special features, which a simple adjustable floor and a couple of elasticated straps the only extra things on offer, but it is a well shaped space.

It is also easy to get things in and out, and store longer items, thanks to the low loading lip and floor that is almost totally flat when the seats are folded.  The only real quibble would be that you have to unhook the parcel shelf to reach the lever to drop the seats.

The verdict

Style and practicality make the Ibiza very easy to live with.