Seat Ibiza long-term test review: report 4

The Seat Ibiza is one of our favourite small hatchbacks, but just how deep do its talents run? We're living with one to find out...

Seat Ibiza 2020 long term loading boot

The car Seat Ibiza 1.0 TSI 95 FR Run by Chris Haining, digital reviews editor

Why it’s here To find out if a small, economical car can cut it as an all-rounder, for weekend pleasure and motorway commuting alike.

Needs to Sip petrol, absorb long journeys without stress, come alive on a country road.

Miles 2945 List price £19,185 Target Price £16,722 Price as tested £19,980 Test economy 48.5mpg Official economy 51.4mpg

3 December 2020 – In light and shadow

As anybody who enjoys music festivals knows, it’s always the headline acts that you’ll see emblazoned across the top of the T-shirts on the merchandise stands. Thing is, though, there’s far more to the festival experience than the bands that take top billing; it’s often the unsigned artists on the minor stages that make the real memories. And, for me, it’s the same with cars.

I chose the Seat Ibiza FR for the economy it promised (and has, so far, delivered) and the driver appeal it’s renown for: its two headline acts, if you will. Supporting those, though, I’ve found a whole programme of benefits that I never set out expecting. For starters, I had no idea it would turn out to be as practical as it has proven. 

On sunny weekends, my wife and I are partial to a spot of kayaking, and we were little short of staggered by how easily this fun-sized hatchback swallowed almost everything we needed for a day’s bobbing about on the water. It gulped down the (inflatable) kayak, the pump, our wetshoes and a pair of buoyancy aids with ease. Only the paddles, which are about as awkward a shape as you could possibly imagine, proved too much for the boot’s appetite and ended up on the back seat.

In fact, our road testers determined that the Ibiza's boot has more luggage space than the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo and even the Ford Focus from the class above.

Seat Ibiza 2020 long term USB sockets

On top of that practicality, the Ibiza has impressed with its thoughtful details. For example, the two USB sockets that are recessed under the central dashboard stack would be impossible to use at night were it not for the soft white light that bathes them. It makes the sockets and the tray in front of them easily visible, without distracting the driver with excess illumination.

Seat Ibiza 2020 Long Term ambient lighting

The same is true of the ambient interior lighting that FR trim counts among its features. Until fairly recently, this was something more frequently seen in pricier, swankier cars, and in many cases it annoys me immensely; with dashboards becoming ever more festooned with bits that light up; making them glow for the mere sake of prettiness detracts from my night-time driving pleasure. Things are different in the Ibiza, though – the soft red glow in my peripheral vision defines my surroundings in quite a reassuring way and reminds me of how submarine interiors are depicted in movies. I approve.

Seat Ibiza 2020 Long Term dark rear seats

It is, however, in the discipline of interior lighting that the Ibiza picks up a black mark – both physically and metaphorically. Seat’s decision not to include any lighting in the back – no matter what trim level you choose – is nothing short of baffling. After sundown, the only rear-seat illumination is whatever comes in through the windows and the scant rays that reach back from the lights up front. Drop something in the rear footwell and you’ll not find it ‘til morning, and wrestling with a child seat could become a fun party game alternative to Blind Man’s Buff.

It's an annoying oversight, but not enough to ruin the main event. I mean, while a really terrible festival gig will be remembered forever, the Ibiza's niggles will be a mere footnote among the many really good bits. 

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