We use cookies on whatcar.com to improve your browsing experience and to provide you with relevant content and advertising, by continuing to use our site you agree to this. Please see our privacy policy for more details. Continue

What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For Smart-looking, fun to drive, sharp handling

Against Limited rear cabin space, firm low-speed ride.

Verdict Our Car of the Year in 2003 and Supermini of the Year three times.

Go for… 1.2-litre 12v SE 5dr

Avoid… 100bhp 1.9-litre TDi diesel

Seat Ibiza Hatchback
  • 1. There's plenty of space for the driver, and a good range of adjustment on the seat and steering wheel
  • 2. Kerbing can damage the suspension, but you can spot potential problems by uneven wear on the tyres
  • 3. With our favourite 1.2 engine, you can expect fuel economy approaching 50mpg
  • 4. Reliability is generally good. Check for electrical or transmission problems, though
  • 5. Boot space is par for the course for a supermini
advertisement

Seat Ibiza Hatchback full review with expert trade views

The Seat Ibiza is based on the Volkswagen Polo, but it’s significantly more stylish and a lot more enjoyable drive.

The Ibiza’s suspension is well controlled, its steering quick, and the handling sharp – making it one of the best-driving superminis of its era. The only major downside is a firm low-speed ride.

The driver gets plenty of space and a good range of adjustment for the seat and steering wheel. Sadly, it’s a different story in the back, where the low roofline limits headroom. Boot space is adequate and similar to that of rivals.

Trade view

The suspension causes the majority of Ibiza issues

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

The beauty of the Ibiza is that the cheapest model is probably the best. The three-cylinder 1.2-litre engine with 63bhp keeps up with traffic in- and out of town, and has low running costs.

The 74bhp 1.4-litre is worth considering, but it needs to be worked hard. Performance fans are catered for by the 150bhp FR and 178bhp Cupra models, introduced in 2004, which both have a turbocharged 1.8-litre engine.

Diesel options are the 73bhp 1.4 or the 100bhp 1.9-litre, both deliver decent pace, but are a little unrefined by today’s standards. There are also FR and Cupra versions of the 1.9-litre diesel with 128bhp or 158bhp.

The range was revised (although not face-lifted) in 2004, with renamed trims. S and SX versions come with air-con (climate control on the SX), twin airbags and a CD player.

SE (later badged Stylance) adds alloys and side airbags, while the sporty FRs and Cupras also get traction control.

Trade view

Far more exciting that the Volkswagen Polo on which it’s based – the Ibiza is handsome and fun to drive.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

Seats are usually cheaper than the VWs they’re based on, and the Ibiza is no exception. However, the most popular superminis, the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa, are cheaper still.

Our favourite, the 1.2-litre averages 47.1mpg, while the 1.4-litre does 43.5mpg. The petrol FR manages 36.2mpg and Cupra 35.8mpg. The 1.4 diesel averages 61.4mpg, and the 1.9-litre 57.6mpg. The sporty diesel FR and Cupra models come in at 57.6mpg and 56.5mpg.

Insurance-wise, the 1.2-litre starts around group 5, while the 1.4 is in group 9. You should expect the performance-orientated models to cost substantially more, because they start around group 20. The diesels range from group 9 right up to group 20.

Trade view

The suspension causes the majority of Ibiza issues

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor

According to Warranty Direct, this generation of Ibiza has a lower than average reliability, and comes in behind rivals such as the Ford Fiesta and Skoda Fabia, although it’s on a par with the Vauxhall Corsa.

The suspension is the biggest issue, with the front suspension is worst affected. Be wary of clonking noises and sloppy handling.

The timing chain on petrol engines can also cause problems, with tensioners breaking and the engine requiring expensive repairs. The windows can also jam, and the door handles can stop working. Several electric issues also crop up, including faulty central locking and engine immobilisers.

The 1.2-litre engine can also experience a problem with its exhaust values. This will limit performance and generate a warning light on the dashboard.

Other issues include headlamps filling with moisture, water leaks into the cabin and boot and numerous trim rattles.

Trade view

Far more exciting that the Volkswagen Polo on which it’s based – the Ibiza is handsome and fun to drive.

Matt Sanger
What Car?'s Used Car Editor
Haymarket Logo What Car? is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media
What Car? is part of Haymarket Motoring
© Haymarket Media Group 2014