SEAT Ibiza Review
Stylish, spacious and fun to drive: the Seat Ibiza is one of the best superminis on sale
Strengths & weaknesses
- One of the most spacious cars in its class
- Comfortable and fun to drive
- Efficient engines
- Average interior quality - especially in cheaper models
- Equipment levels not all that generous
- Cheaper superminis available
With sharply creased lines, responsive steering and a bigger boot than you’ll find in the old Ford Focus, the Seat Ibiza certainly looks distinctive, but it's also fun to drive and perfectly practical as a family car. There's no doubt it's combination of attributed makes it one of the best superminis on the market - and that's before you factor in its zippy and efficient petrol engines and extensive list of options.
This isn't particularly surprising, because the Seat Ibiza remains one of the most advanced small cars that you can buy. It uses a smooth and powerful 1.5-litre petrol engine that's both nippy in town and capable on the motorway. Lightweight materials and sophisticated engineering make the car quiet and comfortable to drive, even on rough roads, but also nimble in corners.
Optional equipment includes adaptive cruise control, wireless in-car charging for compatible phones, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and an upgraded Beats Audio system. It's all a big step up from the previous Seat Ibiza, and helps to push it into competition with more upmarket rivals.
It’s only available as a five-door car and is spacious enough in the back to accommodate two adults or three young teenagers. The class-leading 355-litre boot is even larger than one you’ll find in the spacious Honda Jazz (but only by one litre).
Other cars made by the VW Group, including the Volkswagen Polo, Skoda Fabia and Audi A1, are being replaced with models that are based on the same underpinnings as the Ibiza over the coming years. Beyond these models, only the Vauxhall Corsa comes close to matching the Ibiza in all areas, with similar driving performance but a lower starting price helps make up for its smaller 280-litre boot.
All of this positivity does mean that the Seat Ibiza isn’t what you'd call cheap, prices for a brand new one start from £15,825 and can climb well above £20,000 for a fully-kitted Xcellence Lux model. Compared to Citroen C3, Hyundai i20, or Nissan Micra, the Ibiza is more expensive than all of them. That's not to say you have to go spending new-car money for a 2020 Ibiza though. Pre-registered deals on BuyaCar start from just or per month.
There are other areas where the Ibiza is weak: the interior on lower trim models can feel a little basic, the small five-inch touchscreen surrounded by buttons looks a bit dated, even after just a couple of years. The more minimalist design of the Nissan Micra or the new Ford Fiesta in comparison highlights this shortfall. But if you want a car that’s good at almost everything, then the Ibiza is the car to have.
|Three years / 60,000 miles
|£140 to £160 in first year, £140 thereafter
Best SEAT Ibiza for...
Best for Economy – Seat Ibiza S 1.0 TSI 95 PS
On paper, the least powerful 1-litre TSI engine with 95 horsepower (hp) is the most efficient by a tiny margin over the 115 hp version, but you’ll need to be gentle on the accelerator for the best mpg. S trim includes air conditioning and Bluetooth for cheapest price.
Best for Families – Seat Ibiza SE Technology 95 hp
Combining the Ibiza’s most efficient engine, with SE Technology trim that includes a split folding rear seat, colour dashboard screen, sat-nav and alloy wheels makes for an ideal package for families.
Best for Performance – Seat Ibiza FR Sport 1.5 TSI 150 hp
The new 1.5-litre engine should offers an impressive mix of flexibility, economy and performance – but it is rather expensive.
One to Avoid – Seat Ibiza Xcellence Lux 1.0 TSI 115hp
Seat’s strengths lie in offering sporty fun and value for money. Unfortunately, for all its gadgets (DAB radio, keyless entry and go) the top-spec luxury version still doesn’t feel plush enough for its near-£20k price tag, and it loses a bit of Seat’s traditional sporty appeal.
- July 2017 The current Seat Ibiza goes on sale in the UK
- August 2018 Seat introduces the Digital Cockpit display for the Ibiza, it's available as standard on Xcellence Lux trim.
Understanding SEAT Ibiza names
Trim level SE Technology
The five trim levels indicate the standard level of equipment. S cars are the cheapest and most spartan, followed by SE, FR and Xcellence at the top of the range.
Engine 1.0 TSI 115PS
The size of the engine is given in litres. In general, bigger engines are more powerful but that’s not always the case, so you’ll often see the engine’s horsepower (also written as PS) - here it’s 115. MPI engines are petrol-powered. TSI ones are too, but these are turbocharged for more power and extra efficiency.
The automatic gearbox is known as DSG (direct shift gearbox) which uses two clutches for smooth and faster gear changes.
SEAT Ibiza Engines
Petrol: 1.0 MPI 80, 1.0 TSI 95, 1.0 TSI 115, 1.5 TSI 150 Diesel: 1.6 TDI 95
First up is the least powerful, 80 horsepower (hp) 1.0-litre MPI. While it is the slowest, it's less economical and efficient than the more power TSI, but it is cheaper to insure, which is something. We'd steer clear if you can help it, and go for something more satisfying.
The 1.0-litre TSI engine is turbocharged, which boosts the power without a big increase in fuel consumption. It’s smooth when accelerating and quiet, particularly once you’re up to speed.
It’s available with two power outputs. The 95hp version accelerates from 0-62mph in 10.9 seconds and it will be nippy enough for many drivers. It doesn’t feel particularly underpowered even on the motorway (as long as you don’t try overtaking on an incline). Official fuel economy is 60.1mpg.
The more powerful 115hp engine has the same official fuel economy but is likely to be more efficient in real life, as the extra power means that you can be gentler on the accelerator, which boosts fuel economy. Official carbon dioxide emissions are negligibly higher at 108g/km, rather than 106g/km for the 95hp motor.
Fitted with this engine, the Ibiza feels like it has some punch underneath the bonnet and cuts the 0-62mph time to 9.3sec. It’s more fun to drive as a result. It’s also one of only two engines available with the Ibiza’s excellent automatic gearbox, which is smooth, fast and doesn’t harm fuel economy.
The most powerful petrol engine is a 1.5-litre TSI, which saves fuel by shutting half of the engine down when you don’t need full power (such as when travelling at a steady speed). It’s quicker than the rest of the range, providing acceleration from 0-62mph in 7.7sec. It’s smooth and flexible, so you don’t have to keep changing gears when you’re adjusting your speed, but the lack of a sudden power surge does mean that the car doesn’t feel lightning quick.
The 1.6 TDI diesel delivers impressive fuel economy of more than 70mpg, along with sufficient albeit not particularly stunning performance.
1.0 TSI 95HP
1.0 TSI 115HP
1.5 TSI 150HP
1.6 TDI 95hp
SEAT Ibiza Trims
SE, SE Technology, FR, FR Sport, Xcellence, Xcellence Lux
The cheapest Ibiza is the SE model, which does come with a lot of useful items, including a 6.5-inch touchscreen, air-conditioning, electric front windows, steering wheel audio controls, Bluetooth for connecting your phone wirelessly and advanced safety features - most notably Front Assist, which is an automatic emergency braking system that has been proven to prevent frontal crashes. There's also 15-inch alloy wheels and LED daytime running lights.
Tech such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, DAB radio and Bluetooth are standard across the range.
Next up is SE Technology, which adds Seat's media system plus along with built-in sat-nav as standard. The touchscreen is also enlarged to eight-inches and gains voice-control support. You also get additional steering wheel controls and 16-inch alloy wheels.
FR models are the one to go for if you value your image. The exterior styling gets a load of upgrades here, including re-styled bodywork, 17-inch alloy wheels, tinted windows, LED headlights and a twin exhaust cover. The interior gets some attention, too, with ambient lighting, a leather dashboard and a flat-bottomed leather steering wheel. You also get cruise control, rain-sensing wipers and sport suspension along with the Seat Driver Profile system with four driving modes: normal, sport, eco and individual.
Another step up brings FR Sport trim. Now, don't be fooled by the name, because there isn't anything particularly sporty about this one. You get larger, 18-inch alloy wheels, which go some way to making the ride firmer, but that's about it. You do, however, get the digital cockpit display, microsuede upholstery and dual-zone climate control.
Getting towards the top of the range, we have Xcellence. You have to take a step back now, because some of the extras you get with the FR trims are not included here. So start with the SE Technology trim and work from there. You do get the tinted windows, the LED headlights and the ambient lighting inside. But you also get a leatherette dashboard, a central armrest and the same microsuede upholstery. You get cruise control, dual-zone climate control, rain sensing wipers, electric rear windows and keyless entry along with rear parking sensors.
At the very top of the tree, there is Xcellence Lux. This is the most luxurious, and in addition to Xcellence you get the digital cockpit, adaptive cruise control, front parking sensors, a rear-view camera and the SEAT drive profile with four driving modes.
SEAT Ibiza Reliability and warranty
It’s difficult to read too much into Seat’s track record, given that the car is all-new, and uses very few parts carried over from previous generations.
But, for the record, the previous generation Ibiza was given a respectable reliability ranking of more than 90% in the 2017 Auto Express Driver Power survey, and the more recent Seat Leon was near the very top of the chart with a score of more than 95% - the fourth best result out of 75 cars in the survey.
The standard Seat warranty is three years, with a limit of 60,000 miles, which is about standard for the segment. However, you’ll get five years of cover with a Toyota Yaris or Hyundai i20. Kia offers seven years with its Rio.
Used SEAT Ibiza
The Seat Ibiza has always been a popular second hand car, and the excellent performance of the latest model is expected to increase demand.
The car has only been on sale for just over a year, but a fair few have found their way on to the used market.
If you are looking for a used version for less money, then it's worth remembering that most second-hand Ibizas on the market will be from the previous generation, which also had sharply creased styling, You can identify the newer car by its triangular-shaped, upward-facing headlights. The older model has more jagged headlights, which point downwards towards the grille.