SEAT Ibiza (2008-2017) Review
The Seat Ibiza has been around for a while now, but regular updates have kept it competitive with the best superminis
Strengths & weaknesses
- Efficient engines
- Good value as a used car
- Still looks modern
- Rear seat space is tight
- Suspension feels too firm
- Expensive performance models
It's optimistic of Seat to link the sunshine, sand and hedonism of Ibiza with a functional, practical hatchback, which has an interior dominated by the colour grey.
But the comparison isn't quite as far-fetched as it might seem because the Seat Ibiza is a sportier and (arguably) more stylish version of the Volkswagen Polo. Both cars share the same mechanical parts (Seat is part of the Volkswagen Group of brands) with a few crucial differences.
You'll immediately notice the sharp creases down the side of the Seat and its angled headlights, which make the design stand out from the sober Polo, as well as many other rivals from the same era, including the Vauxhall Corsa, Skoda Fabia and Kia Rio).
And on the road, the Ibiza has a firmer ride than the Polo, so you'll be bobbing up and down more frequently on a bumpy road because it's not as good at soaking up the impact from potholes. The advantage is that it makes the Ibiza feel more agile and responsive when you turn the wheel, giving it the sporty feel that Seat hopes will appeal to younger drivers. It's fun to drive, if not quite as nimble as a Mazda 2 or Ford Fiesta, which also has a softer ride.
You can choose some powerful Ibizas, which offer high performance (for a car of this size), and there are plenty of economical options too. Diesel engines are frugal but noisy.
This version of the car is no longer being produced after being replaced with a new Ibiza, and there are some areas in which it has been left behind by more modern superminis - including the new Ibiza. The best cars in this class have enough space to carry four adults with a reasonable amount of luggage, a comfortable ride and some hi-tech options - all of which might make you question whether it's worth buying a larger car.
However, adults will find that the back of this older car is cramped, whether you have the five-door version or three-door Ibiza. The latter car is called SC, for sport coupe, but it's really not different from any other three-door supermini. You'll find more space in the back of a Corsa, Honda Jazz or Toyota Yaris.
There's a good amount of boot space, though: the 300-litre capacity compares well to other superminis and the Ibiza also has a variety of storage pockets and cubbyholes. For more space, there's an Ibiza estate, called the ST - or sport tourer.
In front, the Ibiza's dashboard looks bleak and dark, with an overwhelming amount of plastic surrounding a small touchscreen. Newer superminis are designed around larger screens and have contrasting panels to break up the monotony.
Until 2015, you couldn't describe the Ibiza as hi-tech. Sat-nav and Bluetooth, for connecting your phone wirelessly, was only available with a clip-on unit called Seat Portable System Live. But an update in that year did bring the car fairly up to date. Most models since then have been fitted with a dashboard touchscreen that has digital radio and Bluetooth, plus the option of sat-nav, as well as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Mirrorlink, which offer a simple way of controlling some phone apps through the dashboard.
The Ibiza does have two sets of Isofix points in the back, making it easy to fit a child seat. But some safety technology, such as automatic emergency braking which can stop the car in an emergency without any driver input, was never fitted to this version of the Ibiza.
Although it was given the top five-star Euro NCAP rating in 2008 - which is good for a car of its age - the independent organisation's tests have since become much tougher, so cars now need to reach a higher safety standard to get the best score.
Video from our sister site Carbuyer.co.uk, published in 2010
|Three years/60,000 miles
|284 litres (three-door); 292 litres (five-door)
|Tax (min to max)
|£0 to £30
Best SEAT Ibiza for...
Best for Economy – Seat Ibiza 1.4 TDI Ecomotive SE
The most efficient version of Ibiza is a diesel car, badged Ecomotive. The 1.4-litre TDI car was sold from 2015 and has an official fuel economy figure of 78mpg. You'll only see around 55mpg in real-world driving, though.
Best for Families – Seat Ibiza 1.0 TSI 95PS SE Technology
SE Technology has a good balance of equipment for a reasonable price (although cruise control wasn't standard). The 1-litre TSI engine is smooth and quiet. You can expect around 46mpg in normal driving.
Best for Performance – Seat Ibiza 1.8 TSI Cupra 3dr
Seat’s Cupra performance cars are well liked by enthusiasts and better value for money than an equivalent VW Polo GTI, The latest Ibiza Cupra is a real hot hatch, with enough power to get it from 0-62mph in under seven seconds.
One to Avoid – Seat Ibiza 1.0 75PS E Sport Coupe
This Ibiza is very cheap, but you don’t get much for your money. It’s the less practical three-door bodystyle, powered by the lacklustre old-fashioned 1.0-litre petrol engine.
- April 2008 Seat Ibiza goes on sale in the UK
- October 2008 Extra-efficient Ecomotive model introduced
- April 2011 Copa trim level joins range with 16in alloy wheels, climate control, refrigerated glovebox, plus automatic windscreen wipers and headlights
- January 2012 Ibiza is updated with small design tweaks, more efficient engines and optional touchscreen media unit, with sat-nav and hands-free phone connectivity, which clips onto the dashboard.
- June 2012 Recall of 25,000 April 2010 - Nov 2011 Ibizas for bonnet close problem
- January 2013 Toca edition is launched with air-conditioning, electric front windows and the clip-on media unit with sat-nav as standard
- April 2014 The Ibiza's 1.4-litre, 150hp petrol engine is replaced with a more efficient 140hp version. The sporty FR Edition with red seatbelts, 17in alloy wheels and tinted rear windows, is added.
- August 2014 I-TECH version launched with a similar specification as SE cars, plus a blue interior and a unique 16in alloy wheel design.
- December 2014 Recall of 8,000 May 2010 - Oct 2014 Ibizas for potential fuel leak
- October 2015 The car gets a major interior upgrade: a touchscreen with digital radio is standard on all but S cars. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are optional and there's also a system that can sense if the driver is tired. New engines are added, includign efficient 1.0-litre petrols and 1.4-litre TDI diesels.
- March 2016 An upated version of the sporty Seat Leon Cupra arrives, with a larger 1.8-litre engine, more power and improved performance.
Understanding SEAT Ibiza names
Engine 1.0 EcoTSI 95PS
Seat displays the size of its engine in litres (here it's 1.0). In general, larger engines have more power, but that's not always the case. It's also common for one engine to be available with different power outputs. That's why you'll often see the engine's horsepower (95 in this example), which may be written as PS. Seat petrol engines are badged TSI or EcoTSI for especially efficient ones. TDI indicates a diesel.
Trim FR Tech
Trim levels indicate the amount of equipment that comes as standard. These varied throughout the life of the car, so you should check the car's specification to ensure that it comes with the gadgets that you're looking for.
Bodystyle Sport Coupe
Seat calls the three-door Ibiza the ‘Sport Coupe’ or ‘SC’ for short. There's also a five-door Ibiza.
Ibizas with automatic gearboxes are badged DSG.
SEAT Ibiza Engines
Petrol: 1.0, 1.0 EcoTSI, 1.2 TSI, 1.4 EcoTSI, 1.8 TSI
Diesel: 1.4 TDI
Seat Ibiza engines were regularly upgraded or replaced during the life of the car, so you'll have to balance the additional efficiency and power of newer engines with the higher cost of buying a more recent car.
The most recent Ibizas, sold since autumn 2015, offered a small 1-litre petrol engine in a variety of power outputs. The least powerful 75 horsepower (hp) car is slow and not particularly efficient but it was cheap, so there are plenty of used examples to choose from.
The 95hp version has a turbocharger to deliver respectable performance without a big reduction in fuel economy. It accelerates from 0-62mph in 10.3 seconds - four seconds faster than the 75hp engine - but the big advantage is that it doesn't need revving as much, so you'll have smoother and quieter performance. It's also exempt from car tax.
Official fuel economy is 67.3mpg, which is calculated from a laboratory test. Figures published in the Equa Index, which is based on real-world fuel economy testing, estimate that you can expect around 45mpg when driven normally.
The most powerful 1-litre engine has 110hp, which brings a small reduction in the acceleration time, and even smoother performance. It's only available with a dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which offers smooth and fast gearchanges.
Confusingly, the Seat Ibiza was also sold with two types of 1.2-litre petrol engine - offering 90hp and 110hp. Performance is very similar to the equivalent 1-litre engines, as is real-world fuel economy. The engines have slightly higher CO2 emissions, costing between £20 and £20 in car tax each year.
There’s also a bigger petrol engine – a 1.4-litre with 150hp. This incorporates clever ‘cylinder-on-demand’ technology that shuts down parts of the engine not needed when you’re cruising gently on the motorway. Official fuel economy is almost 70mpg, but the Equa Index says that this drops to around 41mpg in normal driving. That's still reasonable for a car with rapid acceleration, but it is expensive to buy.
The most powerful petrol Ibiza is the 1.8-litre Cupra hot hatchback, which takes just 6.7 seconds to go from 0-62mph and makes short work of overtaking.
Four different versions of a 1.4-litre TDI make up the diesel engine choice. The 75hp engine comes in both Ecomotive and non-Ecomotive form – the latter a bit less efficient. It can't match the heady official 78mpg fuel economy figures in the real-world: you'll be lucky to get close to 60mpg.
Then there are more powerful 90hp (which was only available as an automatic) and 105hp versions, exclusive to the expensive Ibiza FR trim level.
|72.4 - 78.5mpg
|12.9 - 13.5sec
|106 - 107mph
SEAT Ibiza Trims
E, S a/c, Sol, SE, Vista, Connect, FR, Cupra
There were an enormous number of different Ibiza trim levels during its production run, with varying levels of standard equipment, engines that were only available with certain specifications, upgrades and the optional extras that many buyers paid for.
So, while this can point you in the right direction, it's important to check the specification of the car that you're interested in.
The very basic Ibiza E sits at the bottom of the range, but it’s a dreary affair, available only with the slow 1-litre three-cylinder engine, plastic wheel covers and a four-speaker stereo. There is a small 5in dashboard touchscreen that's black and white, looking like a relic from before the smartphone era.
Stepping up to the Ibiza S A/C gets you several important additions, including air-conditioning. The touchscreen remains black and white, but does come with Bluetooth and digital radio. There are split-folding rear seats that allow you to increase luggage capacity and still have room for up to two passengers in the back. It also added the option of the non-Ecomotive 1.4-litre TDI diesel engine.
Sol trim, which was available on the last of this Ibiza generation, has a similar specification, but also comes with cruise control, a hill-hold system to stop the Ibiza rolling back during hill-starts, and driver tiredness detection. It doesn't have a split-folding rear seat, though.
SE is where the latest-generation turbocharged petrol engine becomes available, along with alloy wheels, front foglights and a leather steering wheel, plus bright LED daytime running lights and body-coloured mirrors and door handles for a smarter look.
The Ibiza Vista adds cruise control, driver alertness monitor and hill-start assistance from Sol trim, along with rear parking sensors and larger 16-inch alloy wheels – but oddly it was only available with the 1-litre three-cylinder petrol engine, which reduces its appeal somewhat.
Next up is the Ibiza Connect, which as its name suggests majors on in-car technology, offering full Apple or Android smartphone integration and built-in sat nav. You even got a Samsung A3 smartphone thrown in, although it's unlikely to be included if you're buying second-hand. It also has a special Atom Grey finish to the mirrors and wheels and ‘CONNECT’ logos dotted about the interior to set it apart from the rest of the range. It’s available only with the less powerful of the two 1.2-litre TSI petrol engines.
The Ibiza starts to looks quite expensive when you get to FR trim, but it’s undeniably well equipped, with sporty front and rear bumpers, twin exhausts, a flat-bottomed FR steering wheel, sports seats and lowered suspension for even nimbler handling than the regular Ibiza. Under the bonnet, you can have the more powerful EcoTSI petrol and TDI diesel engines, or either of the 1.2-litre TSIs.
Topping the range is the Ibiza Cupra hot hatchback, the main feature of which is of course the powerful 1.8-litre engine under the bonnet. The Cupra also looks the part, though, with 17-inch alloys, gloss-black mirrors and exterior trim, special front and rear bumpers, tinted rear windows and sports seats. It also gets an upgrade from basic air-conditioning to climate control.
SEAT Ibiza Reliability and warranty
Seat has for many years been part of the Volkswagen Group, so its cars benefit from proven technology shared across the VW, Skoda and Audi brands. The results of the 2015 Auto Express Driver Power customer satisfaction survey don’t paint a particularly rosy picture, however: owners rated the car just 149th out of 200 models surveyed for reliability.
It should be noted, however, that these results came in before the car’s mid-2015 update, so the newer engines and in-car technology now featuring in the Ibiza can be expected to perform better next time around. All Seats are covered by a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, which isn’t as comprehensive as those offered by rivals such as Toyota and Hyundai (five years) or Kia (seven years).
Used SEAT Ibiza
Unlike the Volkswagen Polo, the Seat Ibiza doesn't hold its value particularly well, which reduces prices for anyone buying a used car.
Do note, however, that some older Ibizas from nearer the model’s 2008 launch date use older and less efficient engines (including a 1.4-litre non-turbo petrol, as well as 1.2 and 1.6-litre diesels) that aren’t as efficient as those available now. And only the latest 1.8-litre Ibiza Cupra has a manual gearbox. Before mid-2015, it had a 1.4-litre engine and DSG semi-automatic transmission only, so the driving experience on offer was less involving.
Prices below show typical BuyaCar discounts for our pick of new and used models.
|Best for performance
Seat Ibiza 1.8 TSI Cupra 3dr sport coupe
|Best for families
Seat Ibiza 1.0 TSI SE Technology 5dr
|Best for economy
Seat Ibiza 1.4 TDI Ecomotive SE 5dr