Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The entry-level 79bhp engine (badged 1.0 MPI 80) is best avoided, because with no turbocharger to boost performance at low revs, it needs to be worked incredibly hard if you want to get anywhere in a hurry.
We much prefer the more powerful turbocharged 1.0 TSI 95. It pulls eagerly from low revs and whisks the Ibiza up to speed surprisingly briskly if you allow the revs to build. In our tests, it managed a very respectable 0-60mph sprint time of 9.9sec. There’s also a more powerful (113bhp) version of the same 1.0-litre turbocharged engine that's punchier still, although not by enough to make it worth the price premium.
Suspension and ride comfort
By any standards, the Ibiza rides really well; it's actually more comfortable than many cars from the class above. It smooths over minor imperfections more effectively than the Ford Fiesta or Skoda Fabia and is more settled on the motorway than those cars, too. That said, if ride comfort is your absolute priority, the Volkswagen Polo rides in an even more sophisticated fashion.
Even FR versions of the Ibiza, which ride on stiffer sports suspension, aren't uncomfortable. You do feel more of bumps as they pass beneath the car, but there's no thumping or crashing over potholes.
Upgrading to FR Sport adds 18in alloy wheels, making the ride firmer still; we’d stick with one of the cheaper trims for this reason.
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.
Its steering works well both in town and at faster speeds: it's light enough to make easy work of town manoeuvres yet streams enough feedback to your fingertips to let you know how well the front tyres are gripping on fast, twisting roads. There isn’t much in the way of body lean, either, although a Fiesta is even more composed through tight twists and turns.
Noise and vibration
Both the 94bhp and 113bhp versions of the 1.0 TSI engine are smooth and reasonably hushed, although put your foot down and you will hear more of a buzz that you would in the rival Fiesta 1.0 Ecoboost.
The 1.6 TDI 95 is a different story, sounding rather gruff when accelerating and sending a fair amount of vibration back through the Ibiza’s controls. There isn’t much wind noise in the Ibiza, though, even on the motorway, but you do hear quite a lot of road noise and tyre slap.
Whichever engine you choose, you'll appreciate the car’s slick gear change and consistent pedal weights in all situations, but particularly when you’re pootling around town; the Ibiza is an incredibly easy car to drive smoothly.