Seat Ibiza review

Category: Small car

One of the very best small cars with no major weaknesses

Seat Ibiza 2022 front cornering
  • Seat Ibiza 2022 front cornering
  • Seat Ibiza 2021 rear cornering
  • Seat Ibiza 2021 interior dashboard
  • Seat Ibiza 2021 interior rear seats
  • Seat Ibiza 2021 interior infotainment
  • Seat Ibiza 2022 front right tracking
  • Seat Ibiza 2022 front cornering
  • Seat Ibiza 2022 rear right tracking
  • Seat Ibiza 2022 right tracking
  • Seat Ibiza 2022 right static
  • Seat Ibiza 2022 rear right static
  • Seat Ibiza 2022 headlight detail
  • Seat Ibiza 2022 rear lights detail
  • Seat Ibiza 2022 alloy wheel detail
  • Seat Ibiza 2022 interior front seats
  • Seat Ibiza 2022 interior driver display
  • Seat Ibiza 2022 interior detail
  • Seat Ibiza 2022 interior detail
  • Seat Ibiza 2022 boot open
  • Seat Ibiza 2022 front cornering
  • Seat Ibiza 2021 rear cornering
  • Seat Ibiza 2021 interior dashboard
  • Seat Ibiza 2021 interior rear seats
  • Seat Ibiza 2021 interior infotainment
  • Seat Ibiza 2022 front right tracking
  • Seat Ibiza 2022 front cornering
  • Seat Ibiza 2022 rear right tracking
  • Seat Ibiza 2022 right tracking
  • Seat Ibiza 2022 right static
  • Seat Ibiza 2022 rear right static
  • Seat Ibiza 2022 headlight detail
  • Seat Ibiza 2022 rear lights detail
  • Seat Ibiza 2022 alloy wheel detail
  • Seat Ibiza 2022 interior front seats
  • Seat Ibiza 2022 interior driver display
  • Seat Ibiza 2022 interior detail
  • Seat Ibiza 2022 interior detail
  • Seat Ibiza 2022 boot open
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Introduction

What Car? says...

It might surprise you to learn that the Seat Ibiza has been around since the mid Eighties. That’s right, the Spanish brand’s small car has been one of its bestsellers for nearly four decades. 

Early Ibizas were powered by engines built in collaboration with Porsche, with styling by the great Giorgetto Giugiaro, designer of the original Lotus Esprit. While this fifth-generation version can't name-drop quite so impressively, there's no denying its popularity.

The Ibiza sits below the Seat Leon hatchback as well as the higher-riding Arona and Ateca SUVs in the car maker's line-up, but you still get five doors and lots of interior space for a temptingly low price.  

Seat gives you a choice of three petrol engines, and the most powerful is available with an optional DSG automatic gearbox. There are six trim levels – all with generous amounts of standard equipment – including the sporty FR and the lavish top-of-the-range Xcellence Lux.

So, should the Seat Ibiza's rivals in the small car class – in particular the Skoda FabiaVolkswagen Polo and Britain’s best-selling car, the Ford Fiesta – really be worried? That's a question we’ll be answering in this review.

Read on over the next few pages to find out how we rate the Seat Ibiza in all the important areas, including performance, practicality, interior quality and running costs. We'll also let you know which engine and trim combination we think makes the most sense

Whether you decide it's the car for you or choose to buy something else entirely, be sure to search our free What Car? New Car Buying service to find the best deals on most makes and models without any awkward haggling. You’ll find some great Seat Ibiza deals.

Overview

The Seat Ibiza is one of the best small cars you can buy thanks to its tidy handling, roomy interior and low running costs. Go for the 1.0 TSI 95 engine and SE Technology or FR trim to get the best value for money.

  • Great to drive
  • Roomy by class standards
  • Strong TSI petrol engines
  • Lots of road noise
  • Resale values could be better
  • Firm ride in FR versions
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Our Pick

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Seat Ibiza 1.0 TSI 95 FR 5dr review
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox

The cheapest engine in the Seat Ibiza line-up, badged the 1.0 MPI 80, has only 79bhp and no turbocharger to boost performance at low revs. It needs working really hard if you want any kind of respectable acceleration and that soon becomes tiring. We’d advise avoiding this engine and going for the next step up the ladder, the 1.0 TSI 95.

In fact, that engine is our pick of the three on offer. It has 94bhp and is turbocharged so it pulls more eagerly from low revs than the MPI and whisks the Ibiza up to speed in a reasonably brisk fashion. In our tests it managed 0-60mph in 9.8 seconds.

If that’s still not quick enough for you, the 1.0 TSI 110 has another 15bhp. It's even punchier than the 95 and has a six-speed (rather than five-speed) gearbox, although we don’t think it’s worth the extra cost.

Seat Ibiza image
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Suspension and ride comfort

Most versions of the Ibiza ride bumps well, smoothing over imperfections more effectively than the Ford Fiesta. However, if comfort is your top priority, the Peugeot 208 and Skoda Fabia are even more supple.

FR versions of the Ibiza get firmer sports suspension as standard. This is designed to improve cornering, and while it doesn't mean you wince over every pothole, you do feel more of bumps as they pass beneath the car.

Opting for FR Sport trim brings the largest wheels on offer, measuring 18in. That makes the ride even firmer, something to bear in mind before you’re seduced by the sporty looks.

Seat Ibiza 2021 rear cornering

Handling

Perhaps the most impressive thing about the Ibiza is how composed and sophisticated it is to drive. In fact, it’s one of the best-handling cars in the class.

The Ibiza’s steering works well both in town and at faster speeds, starting off light during slower driving and manoeuvres, before progressively weighting up well when you find yourself on a twisty country road. It’s impressive how much feedback you get from the front tyres so you’re always aware of how much grip there is.

Body lean is well controlled, especially if you opt for FR trim with the sports suspension. Even so, the Ibiza isn’t quite as much fun to drive as the Fiesta.

Noise and vibration

The Ibiza's 1.0 TSI engines are reasonably smooth, although when you put your foot down hard, you do hear more of a buzz than in a Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost or Fabia 1.0 TSI. The entry-level 1.0 MPI engine is altogether coarser – partly because you need to work it so hard.

There isn’t much wind noise, even on a motorway – although you do hear the tyres slapping away at the surface of the road more than in some rivals, including the Peugeot 208 and Volkswagen Polo.

Whichever engine you choose, you'll appreciate the Ibiza's slick manual gear change and positive clutch pedal action. This is an incredibly easy car to drive smoothly.

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Driving position and dashboard

If you like a fairly low-slung driving position, the Seat Ibiza will suit you better than many small cars, including the Ford Fiesta. The seat is supportive (especially in FR trim models) and you’ll easily find a comfortable driving position, thanks to a good amount of seat and steering wheel adjustability. It’s a shame you can’t get adjustable lumbar support, but lower back support is reasonable without it. 

The interior is laid out in a logical fashion. True, the air-con controls are positioned quite low down on the dashboard, but they’re clearly labelled and not too distracting to use while you’re driving.

Most trim levels come with traditional analogue instrument dials plus a small screen in the middle that shows key information. Upgrading to either FR Sport or the top-tier Xcellence Lux trim changes that, equipping the Ibiza with a 10.25in digital screen that can show a multitude of different things, including the sat-nav maps.

Visibility, parking sensors and cameras

Fortunately, the Ibiza’s eye-catching looks haven’t come at the expense of visibility. Up front, the windscreen pillars don’t obstruct your view out too badly – even at junctions – and the front side windows are suitably tall and easy to see out of.

For extra reassurance, Seat gives you rear parking sensors as standard on Xcellence trim. Xcellence Lux trim adds front parking sensors and a rear-view camera. 

To help you see where you’re going at night, automatic LED headlights come as standard on all trims. Their brightness varies depending on your trim level – SE and SE Technology models get eco-LED lights while the higher trims get full LEDs.

Seat Ibiza 2021 interior dashboard

Sat nav and infotainment

All versions of the Ibiza come with a touchscreen infotainment system, which measures 8.25in on entry-level SE models and 9.2in on all other trims. You have to go for the bigger screen to get built-in sat-nav, although a DAB radio and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring come as standard across the range.

We’ve yet to try the smaller screen, but the larger version is one of the better touchscreens in the small car class. It's crisp and bright, responding quickly when you prod it, and the operating system is relatively easy to get used to. 

Consider the optional Beats sound system upgrade if you love listening to music on the move.

Quality

The Ibiza’s interior quality was improved during a midlife facelift in 2021. There are now squidgy, rather than hard and scratchy, plastics on top of the dash, for example, plus you get a leather-trimmed steering wheel, handbrake and gear lever.

If you go for the FR Sport, Xcellence or Xcellence Lux trim, there's also faux-suede upholstery that lifts the feel of the interior even further. The Peugeot 208 and, to an even greater extent, the Mini, feel even classier inside though.

Regardless of trim level, everything inside the Ibiza feels well screwed together and all the buttons, switches and stalks operate in a reassuringly solid manner.

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Front space

Even if you’re well over six feet tall, you won't feel your hair brushing the ceiling, and the seats slide back far enough to accommodate anyone with long legs. Shoulder room is better than in many small hatchbacks, making the Ibiza feel as roomy as many cars from the class above.

The front door bins aren’t the biggest but they will take a large water bottle. There are also two cupholders between the front seats, along with a cubbyhole in front of the gearlever for your phone and keys. The glovebox is a decent size, too.

Rear space

Yes, the Ibiza is a small car in the grand scheme of things, but you might be surprised by how spacious it is in the back. There's considerably more leg room than you'll find in the rear of, for example, a Ford Fiesta or Peugeot 208

That said, as with all cars in this class, squeezing three adults into the back makes life a little uncomfortable for everyone concerned. It’s manageable if the journey isn’t too long, though, and the fact that the Ibiza is broader than most small cars means there's less of a fight for shoulder room. There’s also plenty of head room to cater for six-footers.

If you often carry a full load of passengers, you might want to consider the MPV-shaped Honda Jazz.

Seat Ibiza 2021 interior rear seats

Seat folding and flexibility

All versions of the Ibiza come with 60/40 split folding rear seats, which is par for the course in the class. If you need greater seating flexibility, take a look at the Jazz – its rear seat bases can be flipped up like those in a cinema.

Boot space

The Ibiza has one of the biggest boots in the small-car class – there's more space for luggage than in the Fiesta and almost as much as in a Skoda Fabia. We managed to fit an impressive five carry-on suitcases below the parcel shelf.

If you need even more space, you can always fold down the rear seats, although doing so creates a fairly large step up from the main boot floor. This is something that could be remedied by a height-adjustable boot floor, but unfortunately you can’t get one – even on the posher trim levels.

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2

As a cash buy, the entry-level Seat Ibiza comes in at around the same price as the equivalent Ford Fiesta, slightly cheaper than a like-for-like Volkswagen Polo and much cheaper than a Honda Jazz or Toyota Yaris. Meanwhile, resale values are respectable rather than outstanding.

If you're buying on PCP finance, as the vast majority of small-car buyers do, the Ibiza offers competitive monthly repayments, although the Fabia is usually cheaper still. Insurance and servicing bills are very competitive by class standards, too.

So far, we've put only the 1.0 TSI 95 through our real-world True MPG tests and it averaged an impressive 54.0mpg.

Equipment, options and extras

The entry-level Ibiza SE gets a good list of kit as standard, including 15in alloys, air-conditioning, cruise control, powered door mirrors, metallic paint and the 8.25in infotainment system. We’d go for at least SE Technology trim, though. It doesn’t dramatically increase the price but adds the larger 9.2in infotainment screen and bigger 16in alloys.

We reckon FR trim is the pick of the range. It adds sports suspension for more agile cornering, along with a more aggressive-looking bodykit and 17in alloy wheels. It also gets you dual-zone climate control, heated door mirrors, rain-sensing wipers and an alarm. FR Sport trim adds bigger 18in wheels and the digital cockpit but is too expensive to recommend.

If you don’t want the sporty look and feel of the FR models, you can opt for Xcellence trim, which gets you keyless entry and a few interior upgrades. There’s also the range-topping Xcellence Lux that brings adaptive cruise control and extra visibility aids. Again, it’s too pricey to make financial sense.

Seat Ibiza 2021 interior infotainment

Reliability

The Ibiza didn’t fare too well in our 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey, coming 12th out of 17 small cars. This put it behind the Mini Hatchback, Vauxhall Corsa, and Skoda Fabia, but ahead of the Audi A1. 

Seat as a brand did a little better, ranking 15th out of 32 manufacturers in the overall league table. That's below Hyundai, Kia, Mini and Skoda, but above Nissan, Peugeot and Volkswagen.

The standard Seat warranty period is three years or 60,000 miles, although this can be extended for a fee to four years/75,000 miles or five years/90,000 miles. It’s worth bearing in mind that Hyundai and Toyota offer five-year warranties as standard, while the standard Kia warranty covers you for seven years.

Safety and security

All versions of the Ibiza come with six airbags, tyre-pressure monitoring and an automatic emergency braking system (AEB) to reduce the risk of colliding with obstacles in the road ahead. That helped it score the full five stars in its Euro NCAP test, although it’s important to note that the result is from 2017, when the tests were less stringent than they are today.

A tiredness recognition system is standard on all models to alert you if you become too drowsy, as is lane-keeping assistance. If you go for range-topping Xcellence Lux trim, you’ll also get a system that recognises road signs and displays them on the dashboard.

Disappointingly, you have to pay extra for an alarm for your Ibiza unless you go for FR trim or higher.

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At a glance
New car deals
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Target Price from £18,051
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From £15,775
RRP price range £19,725 - £25,470
Number of trims (see all)7
Number of engines (see all)2
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol
MPG range across all versions 50.4 - 55.4
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / 60000 miles
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £1,050 / £1,461
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £2,101 / £2,923
Available colours