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Our Cars: SEAT Ibiza 1.0 TSI SE

5 January 2018: SEAT Ibiza vs Ford Fiesta - which is better?

The Details

Current mileage 5099
Claimed economy 60.1mpg
Actual economy 54.3mpg

Like the SEAT Ibiza, the Ford Fiesta is an affordable, practical and stylish hatchback. It’s easy to drive too while mid-spec models get plenty of equipment as standard, which means you don't have to raid the expensive options list to get modest extras, like DAB audio, alloy wheels and LED daytime running lights. 

Hardly surprising, perhaps, that the Fiesta has been Britain’s best-selling car for half a decade. In fact, you’d struggle to walk down a high street without seeing two or three of the things parked up or whizzing by. But how does the all-conquering Ford compare to the SEAT Ibiza?   

It's difficult to deny that the latest Ibiza is a significant step up on its predecessor, with better engines, lower fuel costs and a higher quality interior. It's also one of the most practical hatchbacks you can buy. And even the larger Focus struggles to match the Ibiza for bootspace and rear legroom.

The three-cylinder engine in the SEAT is also far superior to the Ford EcoBoost. It’s quiet, smooth and sharper under your right foot. It's also more honest when it comes to Real MPG, with the EcoBoost 100 missing its advertised figure by as much as 20mpg

IMG_3699

The Fiesta might not be as practical as the Ibiza, but it is better value with more equipment fitted as standard

While the Fiesta loses valuable points on fuel economy, engine refinement and space, it does redeem itself on the road. Indeed, when it comes to fun, the Ford is a country mile ahead of the SEAT with sharp and rewarding handling that feels a world away from the woolly and vague steering of the Ibiza. 

More importantly, the Fiesta nudges ahead on value too. For example, a mid-spec three-door Zetec is much better equipped than a five-door Ibiza SE, with the former getting DAB audio, heated windscreen and lane assist as standard. In comparison, the Ibiza feels somewhat threadbare next to similar priced Fiesta, even if it does benefit from an extra set of doors. 

So, given the choice, which is better? The Fiesta or the Ibiza? Well, that depends on what you want from your compact hatchback. If you value comfort, refinement and lots of interior space, the SEAT will be the car for you. However, if you want something with lots of kit as standard and sharp driving dynamics, the Fiesta will a much better match. 

And me? I wouldn't buy either. Instead, I'd walk straight into Volkswagen showroom and buy a Polo. It's more refined, more comfortable and more attractive to the eye. It's also backed by the same 1.0 TSI petrol engine you get in the Ibiza, but doesn't have the same low-rent interior that leaves the SEAT feeling a little cheap around the edges. 

« Earlier: Platform 9 3/4     Later: One step to well-being – why the Ibiza helps you de-stress after a long day »

Updates
After six months and 6000+ miles, the time has come for Dan to say goodbye to his SEAT Ibiza, but will he be sorry to see it go?
The cabin might look a little bare, but the Ibiza is one of the most-comfortable small cars you can buy.
5 January 2018: SEAT Ibiza vs Ford Fiesta - which is better?
SEAT Ibiza meets its key rival during a recent road test, but which compact hatchback is best?
Two cars almost become one when Dan compares the SEAT Ibiza with the Volkswagen Polo.
Thinking of buying a diesel Ibiza? Don't. The 1.0 TSI is more than up to the task.
Lightweight and front-wheel drive: the Ibiza is the perfect cold weather companion.
With a number of long distance drives under its belt, the Ibiza is proving to be a refined motorway machine
With the weather taking a turn for the worst, the Ibiza's heating system is giving Dan a lukewarm reception.
When it comes to boot space, the SEAT Ibiza has the competition beaten with its gargantuan luggage capacity.
It might be smaller than its predecessor, but the Ibiza delivers big on refinement and space.
After just two weeks, the Ibiza is on its way back to SEAT HQ due to an air con fault.
Dan prepares for six months of holiday jokes and puns, with the delivery of the new SEAT Ibiza.
 

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