First Drive

2014 Seat Ibiza 30 Years Edition review

Seat has launched a limited edition Ibiza. It comes with a 1.4-litre petrol engine and lots of additional luxury kit is thrown in. We drive it in the UK.

Words ByJohn Howell

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Seat has created the Ibiza 30 Years Edition to mark 30 years since the Ibiza supermini was first launched. It's available to order from Seat dealers now, but only for the next few weeks.

There is only one engine - a 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol with 84bhp - and the 30 Years Edition is available in three-door SC guise only, not as a five-door or an ST (estate).

This limited edition model comes with a host of extras, including xenon headlights and LED daytime running lights, climate control, a rear camera and special black 17-inch alloy wheels. Can it justify the Β£14,700 price?

What’s the Seat Ibiza SC 30 Years Edition like to drive?

The engine is the same 1.4-litre unit that used to be fitted to the VW Polo. There's no turbocharger so the engine needs to be worked hard to deliver its performance; there's little low-end punch until you hit around 3500rpm. To make decent progress, especially at higher speeds, you’ll need to make full use of the light but rather vague-shifting five-speed manual gearbox.

The engine isn't particularly efficient either, officially averaging 47.9mpg while emitting 139g/km of CO2, so it’ll cost you more to tax and fuel than rivals of a similar price, including the excellent VW Polo 1.2 TSI. It's not as refined as its rivals either, although engine noise becomes intrusive only high up in the rev range.

At faster speeds you also notice a lot of road and wind noise, which after a while can prove tiresome. Sadly, there’s little relief at lower speeds, when you become acutely aware of the poor ride. It always feels fidgety, becoming decidedly crashy and unsettled over more heavily rutted surfaces.

More positively, there’s a reasonable amount of grip through corners, but don't expect to have much fun because the steering is decidedly vague around the straight-ahead. It means you never quite trust the car to go exactly where you point it on fast, twisting roads.

What’s the Seat Ibiza SC 30 Years Edition like inside?

The 30 Years Ibiza comes with Alcantara-trimmed sports seats, which look classy and offer decent support. The driving position is good, too, with plenty of adjustment for the steering wheel and height adjustment for the driver’s seat.

The standard portable sat-nav system is the same as the one used in the smaller Seat Mii. While it’s competitive in the city car class, it feels below par compared to the systems available on other superminis – most notably the new Polo and even the Renault Clio. The icons on the small touch-screen are fiddly to hit on the move because they're so small, and the unit’s positioning on top of the dash means it’s a real stretch to reach it.

Our test car was fitted with the optional panoramic sunroof, which helps lighten the otherwise sombre interior. The dash looks clear and uncluttered, but it doesn’t take much effort to notice the proliferation of hard and cheap-looking plastics that make up the majority of the Ibiza’s interior.

Space wise, there’s plenty of head-, leg- and shoulder room up front. Rear space is more limited, with little legroom and the combination of the glass sunroof plus the sloping profile rob valuable inches of headroom for taller adults trying to fit in the back.

However, the boot is pretty large by class standards, and the load area can be extended by dropping the 60:40 split rear seats, although this does leave an annoying step in the floor.

Should I buy one?

Probably not. The Ibiza 30 Years is a stylish car, and comes with lots of kit. However, the outdated engine and poor ride count against it, and the cheap-feeling interior does nothing to shake the sense of disappointment. If it were cheaper, then a case could be made for placing it on your shopping list, but at Β£14,700 it looks expensive next some very accomplished competition.

Around Β£15,000 buys you a Mini Cooper or a Ford Fiesta 1.0T Ecoboost 125 Zetec S, both of which are extremely good cars in a number of areas where the Ibiza isn’t. Most notably, they have better interiors - particularly the Mini - they’re both great to drive, more refined, quicker and more efficient.

Another car to consider is the excellent VW Polo 1.2 TSI 90 SE. This starts at Β£13,580 (in three-door form), and even with the addition of climate control and sat-nav, it still fits into a Β£15,000 budget.

If you must have an Ibiza, go for a cheaper version.

What Car? says...

Rivals:

Mini Cooper

Ford Fiesta

Seat Ibiza SC 30 Years 1.4

Engine size 1.4-litre petrol

Price from Β£14,700

Power 84bhp

Torque 70lb ft

0-62mph 11.8 seconds

Top speed 110mph

Fuel economy 47.9mpg

CO2 139g/km