The Summer of 1988
Although driving large relaxing cars, particularly on longer journeys, is my preferred choice, whizzing around town in a small car like the Seat Ibiza, is much more fun & reminds those of us approaching middle age, of what driving was about when we were younger.
SEAT are seen as the Volkswagen Groups, younger, funkier self, producing quality, reliable cars, with a bit of Spanish flair. We loved the Ateca, SEAT’s mid-range SUV, enough to make it our Car of the Year 2016. The super-mini Ibiza though, is perhaps SEAT’s best known car having been around for over 20 years. It’s popular too, last year selling 20,000 units in the UK.
This new version of the model, which SEAT launched in 2017, sees the brand both improve & simplify the range, with new & improved, highly efficient range of petrol & diesel engines. It’s all very equipped. Standard equipment on all models includes, twin-bulb halogen front headlights with electric adjustment, halogen daytime running lights (DRLs), halogen taillights, height-adjustable driver’s seat, air-con, electric front windows, Media System Touch infotainment system featuring a 5″ black & white touchscreen, USB port, Aux-in, steering wheel mounted controls, FM/AM radio, four speakers, Bluetooth® audio streaming & hands free system.
Safety & security on the Ibiza is top notch too & features driver & front passenger airbags, front passenger airbag de-activation, front side & curtain airbags, active front head restraints, ABS, ESC, EBA, hill hold control & multi-collision braking system.
Our test car was the Ibiza SE 1.0 TSI 95 PS 5-speed manual. This petrol unit is one of the best of the small, but powerful 1.0 litre petrol engines out there & offers business users attractive C02 emissions of 106g/km & a combined return of 60.1 mpg.
The new Ibiza may be 2mm shorter than the old model, but as it’s built on the MQB A0 platform, the wheelbase has extended by 95mm giving much more space inside. New Ibiza is also 85mm wider & now feels almost as large inside as larger sister SEAT model, the Leon.
The exterior offers a Spanish take on the super-mini. Sharp creases adorn the Ibiza’s flanks, narrow front lights give the front an aggressive stance & the rear end mirror’s that found on the larger Ateca & Leon models. All in all, it looks good.
Inside, the familiar Volkswagen Group dashboard is in evidence. This is dominated by the infotainment system, which was the 8′ version on our test model, part of the Full Link extra fitted to our test car. This adds Apple Car Play, Google Android Auto & Mirror Link & includes the Media System Plus, which cost an additional £810.
Further additions ion SE trim include front fog lights with cornering function, LED daytime running lights (DRLs), LED tail lights & a chrome front grille. The interior is enhanced with a leather steering wheel, gear knob & handbrake, split folding rear seats (60/40), six speaker’s & 15” Enjoy alloy wheels. Additional extras fitted to our model included a Beats sound system £365, DAB £145 & a driver pack £130.
The 8″ touchscreen is similar to those found in other VW group cars. It was easy to pair my phone to Bluetooth & to connect to Apple Car Play. A nice touch on the VW Group system, is that as you move your hand near the screen, the menu choice pop’s-up, allowing simple selection as required.There are also two knobs either side of the screen which control volume & radio station search
The fit & finish is good, if a little bland in grey & black. Soft-touch is not to the fore & although the seat fabric feel’s hard wearing, it’s in no way luxurious. Thankfully, the heating & ventilation controls are separate to the infotainment system & sit below the touchscreen, for easy access & adjustment. The instrument binnacle is clear & concise & features two large clear dials with a small screen in between that allows you to scroll through functions, such as at the SatNav or vehicle information.
There’s a spacious 355 litres on offer in the boot, which is up 62 litres on the previous model. The rear seats split & fold to increase this. A two step boot floor offers owners even more practicality & access to the boot is excellent.
Out & about, the three-cylinder petrol engine is vocal in low gear, but I found this only adds to the enjoyment of they version. At speed, there’s almost no noise from the engine entering the cabin & on the motorway – we drove to Leeds & back on the hilly M62 – the engine doesn’t skip a beat, allowing you to comfortably keep up with fast-moving traffic. Top speed is 113mph & acceleration from 0-62mph takes 10.9 seconds, but it does feel quicker.
My 1.0 litre test car took us over 300 miles in a week, driving on a mix of urban, extra-urban & motorways at an average return of 47.6 mpg, which is someway shy of the claimed figure. However, in the current ‘anti diesel” climate a petrol engine that averages almost 50 mpg, for business users, is well worth looking at. Bear in mind too, that most of my journey’s were with 3 adults on board.
Sometimes, it’s good to get the views of other’s on a car that I’m testing. In the Ibiza’s case, both my wife & son liked the car a lot, finding it both attractive to look at & comfortable to sit in. My son was drawn to the infotainment system, which is so much better than those found in most other cars. My wife to the solidness of he Ibiza as whole.
Any negatives ? Rear leg room was an issue for a six-foot teenage boy, when sat behind an average height driver & front passenger. Some interior fittings are a little hard to the touch, but that in all honesty is about it. From a price perspective, the basic SE costs £14,995, which I think is a bit of a bargain.
From a fleet perspective, the 1.0 litre petrol gets closer than ever to a diesel’s fuel economy & lower CO2 emissions.Interestingly, there is a 1.6 TDI diesel version of the Ibiza, which comes with lower emissions of 99g/km & a combined fuel economy of 74.3mpg. The diesel SE though, costs £1,590 more the the petrol SE & it’s not as much fun to drive. Unless you are driving in excess of 15,000 miles a year, we think the the petrol is the one to choose.
In conclusion, the latest Ibiza is the best Ibiza yet. If your looking for a company car that is slightly smaller than a Golf in size, the Ibiza is well worth consideration. Where the old Ibiza was just average, this one is above average in the class. From my point of view, I enjoyed driving the Ibiza & would certainly recommend it, not only as a city car, but as a pretty useful motorway vehicle as well.