SEAT Ibiza SE 1.0TSI 95PS 5sp manual 24 | 07 | 2017Scotcars rating

    New Spanish supermini gunning for young generation, but does Ibiza have wider appeal?

    NOT THAT I want to big-up the significance of the new fifth-generation Seat Ibiza, but this is an important car; not just for Seat, but for the VW Group.

    In many ways, the new Ibiza is crucial to the future growth of Seat, as it’s the car the manufacturer — with its proud Spanish origins — is using to target a young audience. And it’s those young customers who, Seat hopes, will continue to drive the firm’s already-positive financial turnaround.

    Of equal significance — and highlighting the importance of Seat to the VW Group — is the fact the new Ibiza is the first to use Volkswagen’s new MQB-A0 platform. Why is that important? The platform is the same which will underpin the new-generation VW Polo/Audi A1/Skoda Fabia. It’ll also spawn a host of small SUVs, including the forthcoming Seat Arona.

    Throw in the fact the Ibiza has sold more than 5.4 million units since it was first launched in 1984 and, that for the first time in its history, in March this year the UK was Seat’s largest export market, this launch is crucial.

    So, the new Seat Ibiza is, without question, a big deal.

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    It will come as no surprise to you, given the fact it’s intended to appeal to the younger generation, that connectivity plays a big part in the latest Ibiza. FR and Xcellence models get DAB radio and a large 8in glass touchscreen to control Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Mirror Link. And if that’s not enough, a powerful seven-speaker Beats audio system is available across all trim levels as an option.

    There are four spec levels at launch: S, SE, the sporty FR and more luxurious Xcellence. Seat are remaining tightlipped on a Cupra version, but don’t rule it out.

    Engines? At launch there’s three petrols. All are three-cylinder, 1.0-litre units with 74bhp, or turbocharged TSI versions delivering 94 or 113bhp. The smaller engine makes do with a five-speed manual, while the larger 113bhp unit get a six-speed. A DSG auto will arrive later this year.

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    Also arriving before the end of 2017 is a new 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, 148bhp petrol, plus a range of 1.6-litre turbo diesels.

    Prices start at £13,130 for the 74bhp 1.0S and rise to £17,310 for the 95bhp 1.0TSI Excellence. We’re focusing on the 94bhp 1.0TSI which Seat believe will be the big seller in Scotland, with prices starting at £14,595 in SE trim.

    The new Ibiza is definitely something of a looker. Seat’s design chief Alejandro Mesonero is a lover of triangles — he believes they suggest motion and direction — so you’ll spot them in the full-LED headlights, the door mirrors, the tail-lights, the interior door handles, the door-pocket openings and even the speaker grilles.

    Externally there are a lot of clean, sharp, crisp edges, and they combine to give the Ibiza a strong, positive stance which certainly makes it stand out from the crowd of rival superminis. Though, such has been its growth in its maturity, that Seat now sees the Ibiza more akin to a family car.

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    And cleverly, despite being 2mm shorter than the previous Ibiza, there’s a feeling of much more space in the cabin; a fact confirmed when you learn the new model is a not insignificant 87mm wider than its predecessor, and the wheelbase has been stretched by 95mm to 2654mm.

    Worth highlighting, it’s also available only as a five-door, with the previous three-door variants being jettisoned.

    The crisp, stylised lines of the exterior are continued into the cabin where the bold dashboard — which incorporates the screen — manages to deliver easy access to those everyday driving functions other manufactures hide behind layers of impenetrable menus.

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    And don’t think the entry price of £13,130 equates to plasticky-feel surfaces and rattles: right across the range panels and other components fit tightly, leaving the driver and occupants sensing how well everything has been put together. Thanks to the new MQB platform, the latest Ibiza also enjoys a near-30% increase in torsional stiffness.

    Ok, some might question the slightly harder surfaces where your fingertips might expect a higher degree of soft-touch luxury, but there are times when it pays to ‘get real’.

    There’s plenty of room in the cabin, with even enough space in the rear for three adults, who can all enjoy the 35mm of extra legroom. As for bootspace, it’s grown by 63-litres to 355-litres.

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    What’s also noticeable in the cabin is the increase in quietness: clearly there’s been some serious attention paid to reducing the level of noise which seeps intothe interior of the latest Ibiza.

    Having previously driven the non-turbo 74bhp 1.0, it’s instantly noticeable how the larger 94bhp 1.0TSI delivers a more enjoyable zip thanks to its turbocharging. Remember, this is still a three-cylinder 1.0-litre, but it was equally capable and at ease coping with the nose-to-tail city centre traffic in Liverpool, as it was hustling across a bleak North Wales landscape.

    Interestingly, and one slight downside of the new-found quietness in the cabin, is that while the Ibiza cruised effortlessly at the legal maximum on the motorway, the tyres did produce just a gently intrusive hum. But that’s becoming more noticeable on a growing number of cars, and is certainly tyre-dependant.

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    It does nothing though to take away from the fact the latest Ibiza is an extremely polished car which has benefitted from the r&d might of the giant VW Group.

    It is though in an extremely tough sector of the market, and while it is a far more attractive proposition than the likes of the Nissan Micra or Citroen C3, it does face stiff competition from the new Ford Fiesta and VW Polo.

    That said, if you’re in the market for a supermini/small family car, and you want to stand out from the crowd in a car which combines refinement, clever technology, fun driving dynamics and is handsome on the road, make sure you test drive the new Seat Ibiza before you make your decision.

    Related: New Ford Fiesta lands in the UK

    Keep up-to-date with all the latest news by following us on twitter.com/Scotcars

    Jim McGill

     

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £14,595 / £16,945
    Engine / Power: 3cyl, 999cc, turbocharged, petrol, 5spd maul / 94bhp
    How fast?: 0-62mph 10.9sec / Max 120mph
    How big/heavy?: L4059mm W1942mm (incl mirrors) H1444mm / 1140kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: 60.1mpg / 106g/km CO2
    InsGP/Road tax: 11E / Band F
    Alternatives: New Ford Fiesta & VW Polo, plus Nissan Micra, Citroen C3

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