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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For The Cordoba's styling is smart, its engines are good and it’s well bolted together

Against Passenger space in the rear is cramped, while its saloon format lacks flexibility

Verdict The Cordoba is something of an oddball, but it's well priced and well built

Go for… 99bhp 1.9 turbodiesel Reference

Avoid… 1.4-litre petrol

Seat Cordoba Saloon
  • 1. Some of the plastics in the cabin may not be classy, but it's all well screwed together
  • 2. Check all the electrical items, such as the air-con and central locking, work okay
  • 3. This saloon lacks the practicality of an Ibiza hatcback, but the boot is almost twice as large
  • 4. Check diesel engines for clouds of black smoke from the exhaust under heavy revs
  • 5. On your test drive, put the suspension and steering through their paces, as they can wear
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Seat Cordoba Saloon full review with expert trade views

The Cordoba is based on the Seat Ibiza, which in turn shares its underpinnings with the Volkswagen Polo. With the Cordoba, though, you get a big boot instead of that rear hatch. True, it may lack the five-door practicality of the Ibiza, but the boot capacity is almost twice as large.

Rear passengers have limited leg- and headroom, but front occupants are well catered for. A steering wheel that adjusts for rake and reach, and a height-adjustable driver’s seat mean that most people can get a good driving position. Some of the plastics look a little on the cheap side, yet the cabin is not a bad place to be.

It's not a bad car to drive, either, cornering neatly and tidily thanks to responsive steering and good body control. However, it would be better still if the steering had a little more feel to it, and the suspension was softer to improve the low-speed ride.

Trade view

John Owen

Essentially a VW Bora. Suffers from poor residuals and looks

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

Telling you to avoid the 74bhp, 1.4-litre is perhaps a little harsh, because it does a good enough job, unless the car is absolutely loaded to the gunwales. But both diesels make better choices.

In a car this light, the 128bhp 1.9 turbodiesel provides almost hot hatch-like acceleration, thanks to a very healthy 229lb ft of pulling power. However, the less powerful - but cheaper - 99bhp version is our recommendation, and it’s hardly short of pull itself, with 177lb ft.

All models come with two front airbags, anti-lock brakes and emergency brake assist. Side and curtain airbags were offered, but only as options, so you may need to hunt around for a cat fitted with them. However, deadlocks are standard, and security is good overall.

Four different trim levels are available - S, SE, Reference and Stylance. The 1.9 TDi Reference is fine, with electric front windows, alloy wheels, a six-speaker CD stereo and air-con all part of the package.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Popular, especially with Reference spec, either 1.4 petrol or 1.9 TDI

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Seat stopped selling the Cordoba in the UK at the end of 2005, but as it had a three-year warranty, you may well be able to track down a late car with some cover left.

The car will need returning to a garage – be it official or independent - every 10,000 miles for servicing. That's pretty much par for the course, and it's the same story for repairs: dealers charge average rates for the class, and the normal repair cost is no worse than on most rivals.

Cheapest to insure is the group 4 1.4-litre petrol, and fuel economy is good, too, with an official 43mpg.

There’s a penalty for the faster, 128bhp diesel, with group 7 insurance, but drive it carefully and you could see 54mpg. For a little less speed the 98bhp turbodiesel is a top tip, and you’ll only face group 5 insurance and will benefit from the best fuel economy, 56mpg.

Trade view

John Owen

Essentially a VW Bora. Suffers from poor residuals and looks

John Owen
Buyer,
Fords of Winsford

Underneath, the Cordoba uses the same hardware as the VW Polo. Okay, some of the plastics in the cabin may not be as plush, but it's every bit as well screwed together, so you shouldn’t be driven to distraction by loose trim as the miles mount.

There is little to worry about on the recall front, although there have been some problems with the fuel pump cover working loose and the risk of cracks on the vacuum pipe to the servo. Full details are available on the Vehicle and Operator Safety Agency website at www.vosa.gov.uk.

As ever, the test drive is the most important thing, and you should check diesel engines for clouds of black smoke under heavy revs; also make sure each individual gear can be engaged smoothly and that there’s no hint of clutch fade or judder.

Put the suspension and steering through their paces, too, and check all the electrics, like the air-con and central locking, are working.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Popular, especially with Reference spec, either 1.4 petrol or 1.9 TDI

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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