Looks wise, barely anything about the new Ibiza is actually, er, new. However, plenty about Seat’s small car has changed, including almost the entire engine line-up.
The range now starts off with a 74bhp 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol, while 94bhp and 109bhp turbocharged versions of essentially the same engine offer better performance, lower CO2 emissions and, officially at least, more miles to the gallon.
There’s now also a choice of three 1.4-litre diesels, the cleanest of which pumps out just 88g/km of CO2.
Inside, the Ibiza also looks and feels a bit more upmarket than ever before, and the fiddly old stereo system has been replaced by a far more user-friendly touchscreen with some clever phone-syncing features.
The Ibiza is up against some seriously talented rivals, though, including What’s Car?’s 2015 Car of the Year the Skoda Fabia, and the brilliant-to-drive Ford Fiesta. Has Seat done enough to make its small car a contender
What’s the 2015 Seat Ibiza 1.0 TSI 95 like to drive?
We tried the new 94bhp 1.0 turbo and it’s an absolute gem. It pulls strongly from 1400rpm, so you don’t need to work the engine hard to enjoy decent acceleration. Unlike some three-cylinder engines, it’s also remarkably smooth and quiet with few vibrations felt through the controls – even at high revs.
However, in other respects the Ibiza is still pretty average to drive compared with the best small cars. Despite tweaks to the suspension, it doesn’t handle as well as a Ford Fiesta or even a Renault Clio, and the steering (also new) is too light and doesn’t communicate particularly well through corners.
That light steering is handy around town, though, where it helps make the Ibiza easy to park and manoeuvre.
The suspension changes have at least improved ride comfort. It wasn’t particularly bad to start with, but there’s now a bit more suppleness at low speeds and a more relaxed, floaty gait on the motorway.
You’ll notice some suspension along on patched-up urban roads and a bit of wind flutter on the motorway, but occupants are generally well isolated from tyre roar.
What’s the 2015 Seat Ibiza 1.0 TSI 95 like inside?
The old Ibiza’s interior was rather low-rent, with harder and generally less appealing plastics than you’d find in many rivals.
The good news is that quality has taken a step forwards; there's now a softer-touch dashboard and some other more attractive-looking plastics dotted around the cabin. The heater vents and some of the switchgear still feel a little flimsy, but the Ibiza’s interior no longer displays such obvious signs of cost-cutting.
More impressive are the new touchscreen infotainment systems. We tried the 6.5-inch Full Link system, which comes as standard on Connect trim and found it intuitive and quick to respond to screen presses.
Better still, it will sync seamlessly with Apple and Android devices to ‘mirror’ your phone's display on the car’s screen, allowing to access to your music, contacts and even text messages. You even get a Samsung Galaxy A3 phone thrown in to get you started.
This system is optional on SE models upwards (the price has yet to be confirmed) while cheaper trims make do with a smaller, monochrome touchscreen.
Entry-level E trim doesn’t get you many luxuries aside from electric front windows and door mirrors. S adds air-con, Bluetooth and steering wheel controls while SE gets you a colour touchscreen and a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gearknob.
However, Connect trim looks best value for money because as well as all the infotainment tech we’ve already discussed, it comes with sat-nav and bigger alloys for a reasonable £14,070 (£14,520 if you want five doors).
Connect trim is available only with an 89bhp 1.2-litre turbo petrol engine that we’ve yet to try in the Ibiza. However, given how well this engine performs in the Skoda Fabia and VW Polo, the signs are certainly promising.
Should I buy one?
The new engines and infotainment features certainly boost the Ibiza’s appeal. It’s also smarter inside than before and, particularly in Connect trim, represents fine value for money.
However, the improvements aren’t enough to worry the class leaders. The Skoda Fabia and Hyundai i20, for example, are both bigger inside and even better value for money, while the Ford Fiesta remains the best-driving small car by a mile.
As before, then, you’ll have to love the way the Ibiza looks to choose it over many of its rivals. Given that it still looks great, however, we certainly wouldn’t blame you.
What Car? says…
Seat Ibiza 1.0 TSI 95
Engine size 1.0-litre turbo petrol
Price from £13,425
Torque 118lb ft
0-62mph 10.4 seconds
Top speed 119mph
Fuel economy 68.9mpg