What's the used Seat Ibiza hatchback like?
Previous generations of the Seat Ibiza were good and popular cars, but they never competed right at the top of the small car class.
All that changed when Seat launched the fifth generation Ibiza in 2017. It was a new model from the ground up, sitting on a new platform and with a range of revised engines.
The attractive body is distinctively styled and, because there's now a greater distance between the front and rear axles, there's more interior room despite it being shorter overall than the 2008-2017 Seat Ibiza. The proportions look a lot better, too, being wider and a fraction lower than its predecessor's.
When it was first launched, you had a choice of three 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engines in various states of tune, a 148bhp 1.5-litre petrol and two 1.6-litre diesels with different power outputs. The engine line-up was eventually simplified to just the 1.0 80, 95 and 115 petrols and the 1.6 TDI 95 diesel. In time, the diesel was dropped too.
As for trim levels, there have been quite a few to choose from: S, SE, SE Technology, SE Design, FR, FR Sport and Xcellence.
Entry-level cars get 15in steel wheels, a height-adjustable driver's seat, Bluetooth connectivity and hill hold control as standard, along with a monochrome 5.0in infotainment system. SE adds 15in alloy wheels, a leather-clad steering wheel and gearlever and a colour infotainment system.
SE Technology gets Seat's 8.0in touchscreen infotainment system – complete with sat-nav and a CD player – and ambient interior lighting, while SE Design includes 16in wheels, tinted rear windows, chrome exterior trim, a panoramic sunroof and a 300W Beats audio system.
Sporty FR models add smartphone integration, 17in wheels, gloss black exterior trim, a twin exhaust system, sports seats and suspension, a DAB radio, cruise control and Seat's driving modes controller. Range-topping Xcellence features more convenience, with rear parking sensors, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and ignition, and a rear-view camera.
On the road, the entry-level 1.0 80 engine is a little too feeble. The 1.0 95 is more than up to the job, pulling eagerly and smoothly from low revs, while the 1.0 115 is punchier still. The 1.5 is a real flyer, but it will cost more to run and there are not so many around on the used market. On paper, the diesels are impressively economical, although both are a little gruff.
When it comes to the ride and handling, this Ibiza feels grown-up and composed, and superior to many of its rivals in the small car category.
It smooths over minor imperfections more adroitly than a Ford Fiesta or Skoda Fabia and is more settled on the motorway than those cars. Its steering is light and easy but also communicative. There’s plenty of grip and the handling, while being safe and entirely predictable, borders on good fun.
There’s a slick gearchange and a positive clutch on all models, while road and wind noise are kept out for the most part. The petrol versions are very refined at nearly all speeds, while the gravelly note struck by the diesel units lets those models down slightly.
Inside, you get a great driving position, good visibility and an attractive and classy looking dashboard and surroundings. It all feels sturdily assembled, with a mix of plastics and interior trims that, while not quite a match for those found in its sibling, the Volkswagen Polo, still feel solid and pleasing to the hand and eye.
There’s an enormous amount of space available both front and rear for a car of this size. No one will complain up front and there’s plenty of stretching room for two tall passengers in the rear, although three abreast will only be tolerable for shorter journeys.
The boot is huge, too. Seat claims that the Ibiza has a bigger boot than a Ford Focus. While that seems optimistic, there’s more room for luggage than you'll find in nearly every small car rival – including the Fiesta and even the Polo.
The Honda Jazz has a slightly larger boot, but only by a fraction. A couple of big suitcases or a small buggy will fit easily and we’ve managed to squeeze in five carry-on suitcases without removing the parcel shelf or folding down the rear seats. There’s also the option of a false boot floor.
All versions of the Ibiza have six airbags, active head restraints, tyre pressure monitoring and automatic emergency braking (AEB) to help prevent you from running into the car in front. All that helped it score five stars (out of five) in its Euro NCAP crash test, with particularly strong scores for adult occupancy protection and pedestrian safety. A tiredness recognition system is standard on FR and Xcellence trims, as is an alarm.
You can also view sat-nav maps on the excellent 12.3in digital driver display. It replaces regular dials and, as well as maps, shows lots of useful information right in front of your eyes.
Advice for buyers
What should I look for in a used Seat Ibiza hatchback?
Check the extremities of the car for any dents and scuffs picked up in car parks. Examine any alloy wheels for kerb damage, because not only can that be expensive to repair, but could also be an indication of possible suspension damage. Also check the interior for any premature signs of wear on the trim.
What are the most common problems with a used Seat Ibiza hatchback?
Rear seatbelt can unbuckle
Seat Ibizas made between 1 May 2017 and 26 September 2018 had an issue with the left rear seatbelt buckle releasing the seatbelt in extreme circumstances. If all three rear seats were occupied, the movement of the middle passenger during sudden high-speed cornering could be enough to unlatch the left seatbelt buckle. Affected cars should have a spacer fitted between the two buckles to prevent it from happening, so check with your Seat dealer to make sure it's been sorted.
Increased handbrake travel
The nut that holds the handbrake adjustment in place can work loose on some Ibizas built between 25 May 2017 and 6 November 2018. That could allow the car to move if the adjustment is slack enough, so make sure this fix has been carried out by speaking to your local Seat dealer.
Is a used Seat Ibiza hatchback reliable?
Our latest reliability data has this generation of Seat Ibiza with a reliability rating of 89.3%, which is good, but a fair few cars in the small-car class rank higher. It finished 22nd out of 28 cars in the small car class. In the same survey, Seat as a brand came a respectable 15th out of 32 manufacturers.
What used Seat Ibiza hatchback will I get for my budget?
Prices for this generation of the Ibiza start at around £8000. That will buy you a 2017 car with an average mileage from a trader or car supermarket, but it will probably have the entry-level 1.0 petrol engine. Spend between £8500 and £10,000 to get the engines with slightly more oomph, such as the turbocharged 1.0 95 petrol or 1.6 diesel. If you’re lucky enough to have more than £11,000 to spend on your Ibiza, you should find a good 2018 1.0 95 petrol in desirable FR specification with a low mileage from a franchised dealer. Expect £12,000 to £14,000 to net you a 2019 or early 2020 car. Plan on spending upwards of £15,000? If so, you can get yourself a 2021 or early 2022 example.
How much does it cost to run a Seat Ibiza hatchback?
On paper, the most economical Ibiza is the 1.6 TDI diesel, in either 80 or 95 form. Both return a claimed average fuel consumption of 74.3mpg under the older NEDC tests and corresponding CO2 emissions of 99g/km, or 57.6mpg under the newer WLTP tests. The best-performing petrol engines officially are the 1.0 95 and 1.0 115, both returning figures of 60.1mpg and 106g/km under the NEDC, or 52.3mpg under the later, more realistic WLTP tests.
Provided your Ibiza was registered after 1 April 2017 (most of this generation were), you’ll pay the current flat-rate fee of £165 per year. Read more about road tax costs here.
Insurance groups are low, ranging from just 2 for the 1.0 75 to 12 for the 1.0 115.
Seat servicing costs are very reasonable and roughly on a par with those of Ford and Vauxhall. Franchised dealers offer a transparent fixed-price servicing scheme, with cars that are more than three years old eligible for slightly discounted prices. You can also opt for a prepaid service plan on cars up to eight years old, which is worth taking out if you want your car serviced at a franchised dealer.
Which used Seat Ibiza hatchback should I buy?
The 1.0 95 petrol engine is in effect a turbocharged version of the entry-level 1.0 80. It’s our pick of the engine line-up, being refined and punchy from low revs and able to whisk the Ibiza up to 60mph in around 10 seconds – very respectable by class standards – as well as being quite economical.
We’d try to seek out a car in FR trim. As well as adding the larger infotainment screen and 17in alloy wheels, FR gains you a more aggressive bodykit, sports seats, a DAB radio, cruise control and rain-sensing windscreen wipers.
Our favourite Seat Ibiza 1.0 95 FR
What alternatives should I consider to a used Seat Ibiza hatchback?
The Ford Fiesta is a perennial favourite in the small car class. It’s always been up there among the best sellers and it’s not hard to see why. It’s great fun in bends and good to drive overall, with punchy performance and plenty of luxuries thrown in for good measure.
The Volkswagen Polo is a not-so-distant cousin of the Ibiza. It has a smart interior, excellent refinement and a supple ride. It’s even good to drive. Like for like, the Polo works out slightly more expensive than the Ibiza, though, for both new and used cars.
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