Long-term test review: SEAT Ibiza
24 Jan, 2018 3:30pm
My daughter Natasha has recently returned to the UK after living in Spain for a year – and I was there to greet her at the airport with the latest addition to our fleet, the SEAT Ibiza. The Spanish supermini is a 1.0-litre petrol model in SE trim, and its metallic Desire Red paint (£650) gives it a suitably Mediterranean look – despite the cold, wet weather in London.
As I live in the capital, that’s where the Ibiza spends most of its time. I really enjoy driving it in town, because of the precise steering, strong performance low down in the rev range and refined cabin that protects occupants from the worst of the engine and road noise.
I’m also a fan of the stop/start set-up, which keeps things quiet when the car isn’t moving. This function – along with the handy gearchange reminder on the trip computer – helps save fuel as well.
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We’ve taken the Ibiza on a few trips out of town. One long journey to Wales proved that the little SEAT can keep up on the motorway, although it’s definitely better suited to shorter jaunts.
I’m a big fan of the Ibiza’s solid interior. It’s hi-tech in the right areas, but doesn’t feel unnecessarily laden with the latest gadgets. For example, I prefer using a key instead of merely pressing a button to start the engine, as with the Renault Megane I ran previously. I also like having an actual handbrake to pull, rather than an electronic parking brake.
However, much as I prefer traditional controls, I appreciate the Ibiza’s smart new infotainment system and interesting interior design. Our car is fitted with SEAT’s Navigation System (£660), which adds an eight-inch touchscreen display. It also has Full Link (£150), which brings Android Auto and Apple CarPlay functionality, plus DAB radio (£145). Apart from DAB, those options are no longer available on the SE model, as SEAT has changed its trim line-up, but go for an SE Tech and you get the screen as standard, while the options can be specified at extra cost.
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So far, I’ve found the system easy to use. The screen is really clear, and connecting my phone is straightforward. The built-in sat-nav is responsive, too; handy, because I’m always forgetting to bring a cable to plug in my smartphone, which means I can’t use the built-in mobile app. At least I can connect via Bluetooth to play my music through the stereo. Talking of which, Natasha is a big fan of the sound system. She makes sure the volume goes up very loud indeed.
I’m not entirely sure about our car’s grey cloth interior trim. Although it looks quite stylish, it doesn’t feel particularly hard wearing. We’ll have to see how it stands up to use over the coming months on our fleet.
The Ibiza has a 355-litre boot, and 823 litres are available with the seats folded. That’s very big for a car in this class. I was slightly nervous that we would struggle for space when Natasha flew back from Bilbao with her bicycle, but with the rear seats folded down and the bike safely packed in its special bag, we had no problem fitting everything in.
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The Ibiza’s compact size and optional rear parking sensors (£220) should make manoeuvring a breeze, but I’m taking time to adjust. I think that might partly be due to me missing the Mégane’s great rear-view camera, although I also reckon the Ibiza’s door-mirror design doesn’t help. While the sharp, pointed edge looks fantastic with the car’s angular styling, it hampers visibility.
I’ve also found that as soon as you engage reverse gear, the volume of the sound system is automatically lowered. As frustrating as this is for Natasha, I think it’s a sensible safety feature.
A rear-view parking camera is available as part of the Vision Pack Plus (£425), which also brings front and rear parking sensors – and if I were to buy an Ibiza of my own, I’d definitely add that option.
*Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old living in Banbury, Oxon, with three penalty points.
- Model: SEAT Ibiza 1.0 TSI 95 SE
- On fleet since: October 2017
- Price: £14,595
- Engine: 1.0-litre 3cyl, 94bhp
- CO2/tax: 106g/km/£140
- Options: Metallic paint (£650), Beats stereo (£365), rear parking sensors (£220), DAB radio (£145)
- Insurance*: Group: 8 / Quote: £694
- Mileage: 2,574
- Economy: 42.1mpg
- Any problems?: None so far