First drive review: SEAT Ibiza

SEAT Ibiza
Now in its fourth-generation, the SEAT Ibiza has been the backbone of the Spanish range since its launch in 1984.

The current car looks sharp, but this supermini is almost four-years old and SEAT has taken the opportunity for a face-lift. We headed to Barcelona to see what it is like.
Exterior changes are how you will spot the face-lifted Ibiza and include sharper front headlights, with Audi-like LED daytime running strips on FR and SE models. There's also a smaller grille and a chunkier bumper at the front.

At the side, there are new wheel designs and at the back there are restyled LED rear light clusters and a reprofiled bumper.

SEAT Ibiza
Inside, on first look, not much has been changed. In fact the only obvious change that we could spot apart from new interior trim was the revised dials that are easier to read. Overall, the Ibiza feels solidly built, but it doesn't feel as luxurious as some rivals.

We had the chance to drive all of the Ibiza body styles (three-door hatch, five-door hatch and five-door estate). The driving position is comfortable on all, but rear space and access is most compromised on the three-door SC. Go for the ST estate (now available in range-topping FR trim), if boot space and practicality is important. Prices start at £9,995.

Apart from some changes to make the turbo petrol engines more efficient, the engine line-up remains unchanged. We were able to drive the 1.2 TSI and 1.4 TSI petrols, plus the 105hp 1.6-litre TDI turbodiesel at the launch.

SEAT Ibiza
The 105bhp 1.2 TSI is turbocharged and as such feels far more capable than you might expect, although the cars at the launch were only available with the DSG semi-automatic transmission which we don't believe shows this engine at its best. Previous manual versions have felt sharper and it is what we'd recommend.

Go for the fastest model, (for now, a range-topping Cupra will debut later this year) the 150bhp turbocharged and supercharged 1.4 TSI and there's only the choice of DSG transmission, now minus the steering wheel-mounted paddles too, which is a shame.

The drive on the 1.2 and 1.4 TSI feels composed and the ride was comfortable despite the 17-inch alloys.

SEAT IbizaInitially, we weren't looking forward to driving the 105bhp, 1.6 TDI turbodiesel and yes it was noisy. However, there was enough power, torque and sharp enough steering to make it fun on the twisty test route yet it was still frugal.

So would we recommend the latest Ibiza supermini? Yes, it is more stylish than ever and is still the high-value package it always was. The interior isn't quite as smart as rivals, but the Ibiza's sporty images should help it find buyers.

SEAT Ibiza face-lift
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