Supermini megatest - Seat Ibiza

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Seat Ibiza 1.4 Sport
List price £11,285
Target Price
0845 2726000

They're nothing if not cunning within the Volkswagen Group, whose umbrella extends over many brands, including Seat.

They create platforms – or architectures, as they prefer to call them – that can be used across the various brands, supply a basket of transmissions and engines, and leave each company to style and tune its cars according to its market position.

The Ibiza got first use of the architecture that also underscores the new Polo, so we might expect the two to exhibit many similarities. Not so fast, though. VW isn't stupid, and it's certainly not going to discharge a sawn-off shotgun in the direction of its own feet.

The Ibiza might appear to have the same 84bhp 1.4-litre petrol engine as the Polo, but it's actually an older version, without the latest fuel injection and electronic control systems, and it meets EU4 rather than more stringent EU5 emissions standards.

1390cc, 4cyl
84bhp @ 5000rpm
98lb ft @ 3800rpm
Average economy
Boot (min/max)
292/554 litres
The result is that it emits 10g/km more CO2, which means you'll be two tax bands worse off if it's a company car, and a couple of miles per gallon the poorer if you're paying for fuel yourself.

It sits on a slightly shorter wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear wheels) and there's not as much rear-seat legroom – it's only manageable because of the hollows in the backs of the seats ahead.

It also lacks the plush plastics found in higher-grade Polos – not really surprising because it costs £1200 less. Naturally, it has been styled and tuned to fit Seat's sporty brief.

It's an attractive car, if not as striking in five-door form as it is as a three-door Sport Coupé, and if the interior isn't as inviting as the Polo's, it still has its good points: Alfa Romeo-esque hooded instruments, a three-spoke steering wheel with leather grip, neat dashboard shapes and good seats best saved for the slim-hipped.

The engine pulls in a similar way to the Polo's, although it doesn't sound as mellow, but the suspension is on the firm side. It's nicely damped, but there's a more aggressive edge that manifests itself through less compliance over sharp bumps. There's more tyre noise, too. The standard 16-inch alloy wheels and relatively shallow tyres don't help.

You get the impression that this car will appeal to potential Fiesta buyers more than Polo devotees. The trouble is that it's only about half as good as the Fiesta. Sure, it costs £2400 less, but when you factor in discounts, the difference comes down to £1100, and at that price gap the Ford romps it.

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