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SEAT Ibiza 1.0 TSI 115PS 2017 Road Test

It’s taken nine years for SEAT to come up with an all-new Ibiza. But we can tell you it has been worth the wait. Much more than just another little hatchback – the new Ibiza is now one of the very best cars in its class. It’s practical, well-built, sensibly priced, full of useful technology, excellent to drive and available with a great range of engines.

The styling is very reminiscent of the bigger Leon, but with even sharper edges and bolder lines. And the Leon’s DNA is apparent in other areas of the car too, including the driving experience – this is a very accomplished little car that feels at home whether nipping around town, on a long motorway drive or tackling a narrow back road.

Initially only petrol engines will be offered – a 1.0 MPI with 75PS, a 1.0 TSI with 95PS or 115PS plus a 1.5 TSI with 150PS. The latter two are only offered in the sportier FR variant. A 1.6 TDI will come later with 80PS or 95PS. But there’s no reason to wait for those - as the 1.0-litre TSI petrol is a great fit for the Ibiza.

We drive the 1.0 TSI with 115PS and found it to be a punchy performer. There’s 200Nm of torque available from 2000rpm, meaning plenty of performance at low engine speeds for easy acceleration and overtaking. It’s a quiet engine too, settling down to a gentle hum when cruising at motorway speeds. Official economy is 60.1mpg.

SEAT Ibiza 2017 (5)

On a twisting back road the Ibiza is great. The steering is very nicely weighted and accurate, while the suspension provides a well-judged balance between comfort (even in the slightly sportier FR model tested). The clutch, brakes and gearchange all feel well-engineered too – they’re light enough to be easy to use but provide plenty of feedback.

The driving position is impressive, with plenty of adjustment and a supportive seat. There’s a surprising amount of space in the back too, with sufficient head and legroom for most adults to get comfy, provided those in the front seats aren’t too tall. Build quality is top notch, with sturdy plastics that feel like they'll withstand plenty of abuse, despite not looking cheap. 

Unlike the outgoing Ibiza, the latest model is a five-door only, with the less practical three-door getting ditched, along with the ST estate. Fortunately, the boot is practical with a nice square load area and a low load height. The capacity is 355 litres, which in real world terms is plenty for shopping trips or weekends away. Getting stuff in and out is easy, but if you have a pushchair to worry about the Ibiza is on the small side.

Safety gadgets fitted as standard include front assist with auto emergency braking, hill start assist and auto lights. Also standard is air conditioning, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB socket and an AUX jack. A touchscreen system is standard too, but the really good features are reserved for the 8.0-inch Media System Plus, which is only standard in mid-range SE Technology trim or higher.

SEAT Ibiza 2017 (8)

It works extremely well, with intuitive controls and menus and a clear display. This system also supports Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Mirrorlink for accessing smartphone apps on the move, but frustratingly this is only standard on top FR and Xcellence models, otherwise it costs £150, which seems steep for what is essentially just some software.

If you want to add some custom touches there are plenty of options including a variety of different alloy wheel designs, coloured dashboard inlays and exterior paint finishes, including a new Mystic Magenta metallic paint finish that looks like the rose gold colour offered by high-end smartphone companies.

Other optional extras include useful stuff like a wireless smartphone charger with a signal booster, adaptive cruise control, full LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof, dual-zone climate control and an upgraded Beats audio system. Pleasingly, nothing on the options list is obscenely expensive, so most buyers will be able to indulge a little bit.

Stylish, well-priced, good to drive and with decent practicality, the new SEAT Ibiza is a great choice of small hatchback. In terms of price, equipment and driving enjoyment it performs as well as or better than any of the alternatives like the Vauxhall Corsa or Volkswagen Polo, which makes it quite a compelling car and one we can very easily recommend.

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