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 this changed when Seat launched this fifth generation in 2017 – a new model from the ground up, sitting on a brand 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 actually being shorter than the previous car. The latest Ibiza's proportions look a lot better, too, being wider and a fraction lower than its predecessor.
Under the bonnet, you initially got 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. This line-up was eventually simplified, with just the 1.0 80, 95 and 115 petrols and the 1.6 TDI 95 diesel.
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.
Upgrade to SE and you'll find 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 receives 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 next-up 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 as it was taken off sale there are few around on the used market. On paper, the diesels are impressively economical, although both are a little gruff.
But it’s in the ride and handling departments that this Ibiza feels grown-up and composed, and superior to many of its rivals. 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 is 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, while three abreast will only be tolerable for shorter journeys, there’s plenty of stretching room for two lanky passengers at the rear.
The boot is huge, too; Seat claims that the Ibiza has a bigger boot than a Ford Focus. While that seems a bit optimistic to us, there’s more room for luggage than you'll find in nearly every small car rival – including the Ford 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 to help prevent you from running into the car in front. All of this helped the Ibiza 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.
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