What is it?
It’s the winner of this year’s Business Motoring small car award, and a lot of fun it is as well.
The latest version of the SEAT Ibiza has received a host of updates to ensure the brand’s longest standing model remains at the forefront of the ultra-competitive supermini class.
It’s a nameplate that’s been with us for mor than three decades, launched before the Spanish brand became part of the Volkswagen Group, making great play on the fact that it contained elements of Porsche engineering.
These days, the Ibiza makes copious use of the VW Group’s parts bin and combines a low Total Cost of Ownership with an overall desirable package designed to delight SME users.
It is now available with a multitude of new technology which builds on the previous car’s already extensive specification and also boasts a raft of assistive safety systems to enhance the comfort for high-milage business users, including Travel Assist semi-autonomous driving, Lane Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition, Side Assist and High Beam Assist.
Combined, these new features make the Ibiza one of the safest and most connected vehicles in its class. For SMEs, it delivers exceptional levels of convenience and user-friendliness.
So, what else is in this class? Well it’s the likes of the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Peugeot 208 – pretty hot competition then, The Ibiza shares the VW Group’s MQB-A0 platform with the VW Polo, Audi A1 and Skoda Fabia and is the lightest of the lot.
Late last year came the latest facelift and while the exterior has largely been left untouched there is a slightly longer wheelbase, a new infotainment system and LED lights as standard.
Something you will no longer find is a diesel version while the 1.5-litre petrol has also been axed in favour of lively 1.0-litre three-cylinder engines in either 89hp, 95hp or 108hp trim.
What do we think?
As well as being a Business Motoring award winner, the SEAT brand’s average owner is around 10 years younger than its VW Group siblings. Even so, there’s no sporty three door or even a convertible – everyone gets the five-door hatch.
Even so, it looks pretty good and you can get some add-ons such as an upgraded Beats audio system.
What you will find is an all-round package that works in terms of price, flexibility, looks and a surprising amount of space for one so small.
The 95hp three-cylinder engine certainly does the job, it’s man enough to cope with the hills and quiet enough on the motorway. The FR model we reviewed has a slightly sporty, firmer suspension set-up so you will feel the lumps and bumps.
That said, the car came with a manual gearbox and such is the way of the world right now, the first ‘stick shift’ I’ve driven in ages ……. What fun.
Behind the wheel, the wide dashboard gives the impression of being in something larger while the longer wheelbase and wide track keep things stable down the windy lanes. While the FR ride is firm, it’s well damped and you don’t feel you are being rolled around. It’s also pretty quiet in terms of road and wind noise.
The 1.0-litre thrums along as all 3-cylinder engines do, adding a bit of a sporty sound under acceleration, but it runs out of puff quite early …… as all 3-cylinder engines do. Use the gear lever to the max and you’ll get surprisingly sporty performance, aided by sharp steering providing a feeling of good agility.
The top spec 108bhp unit can be specified with a seven-speed DSG automatic gearbox, but I expect this is nowhere near as much fun to drive.
The latest facelift has seen the addition of some soft-touch surfaces and a more premium feel over the previous plasticy interior. Infotainment has been updated while base versions get an 8.25-inch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, all the other trims get a 9.2 inch unit.
There’s a surprising amount of space for rear seat passengers while front seats are nicely-shaped and the driver’s is height-adjustable across the range so there’s a driving position to suit all shapes and sizes.
The latest generation Ibiza has a boot space of 355 litres and that can be extended by lowering the rear seats.
All in all, a very worthy Business Motoring Award winner.
SEAT Ibiza 1.0-litre TSI FR 95PS
P11D value: £17,090
Engine: 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder
Max Power: 95hp
Max Torque: 175Nm
Top speed: 116mph
0-62mph: 10.6 secs
Fuel economy (on test): 52mpg
Ins group: 8