SEAT Ibiza (2008 – 2017) Review

SEAT Ibiza (2008 – 2017) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The SEAT Ibiza is a fashionable alternative to the Volkswagen Polo. It's cheap to run and represents good value for money to buy.

+Cheap to run. five star Euro NCAP rating, clear and simple dash layout. Facelifted with improved engine range from spring 2012.

-Wind noise at higher speeds, starting to feel dated inside.

Insurance Groups are between 3–23
On average it achieves 82% of the official MPG figure

SEAT’s Ibiza found top form when this generation was launched in 2008 in hatch, SC three-door and estate forms. Straight away, the Spaniard put itself into contention with the very best the supermini class had to offer at the time in the shape of the Ford Fiesta and the Ibiza’s cousin, the Volkswagen Polo. It might not have found quite as many buyers as these two class leaders, but the Ibiza was more than good enough to tempt plenty with its mix of fun driving manners, frugal engines and roomy cabins. All this and it was well equipped too.

SEAT made a great job of the Ibiza launched in 2008 to push itself right into the heart of the supermini eco-system. Using the Volkswagen Polo as a base was always going to be a brilliant place to start and SEAT built on this by divvying up the Ibiza into three distinct lines under the same umbrella.

These three versions consisted of the SC coupe-like three-door hatch, a roomy ST estate and the five-door hatch. It’s the hatch that was the mainstay of the range to take on the might of the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa.

While the Ibiza’s sales figures were not quite in the same league as these two giants of the small car market, it was the best-selling model in the SEAT range. It’s easy to see why when you consider you had the underpinnings of a Polo at a keener price. It’s much the same story with this Ibiza in the used market.

The Ibiza is also well equipped and has some of the lowest running costs in its sector, especially if you opt for the Ecomotive model that delivers 92g/km CO2 emissions and 80.7mpg combined economy. Even by today’s standards, this model makes for cost-effective ownership.

As well as its financial appeal, the Ibiza scores with its crisp styling that helps it stand out from the crowd in a busy car park. SEAT is also not shy when it comes to offering diversity in the trim line-up, though the five-door model foregoes the most rapid Cupra edition that took on the Fiesta ST, Renault Clio RS and Vauxhall Corsa VXR.

Inside, it’s a good place to spend any journey, though those travelling in the back may find space a little cramped. Even so, the SEAT Ibiza is a handsome and able hatch with a wide choice of engines, trims and well judged pricing that should see it on most buyers’ shortlists.

SEAT launched the revised Ibiza in mid-2012 and it's available with a new Portable Media System with a touchscreen display that includes a navigation system, on-board computer and Bluetooth. It is fully integrated with the Ibiza's electronics and is also removable for using on the move.

On top of all this, the SEAT Ibiza is also one of the better cars in its class to drive. From the start, it always felt a little more taut and livelier that the Polo with which it shared so many of its raw components. The Spanish firm seemed to have the knack of making the Ibiza more fun to drive while also introducing better ride control to give it a small but significant comfort advantage over its German cousin.

This makes the 2008-2017 Ibiza a very sound choice now for anyone looking for a comfortable, affordable and good looking supermini.

Ask Honest John

What small hatchback should I buy?

"Sadly it maybe time to part with my SEAT Leon Cupra which I bought new in 2003 as it requires approxiamately £1k of work though the engine and gearbox are perfect even after 150k miles. I would like a car that is interesting to drive and am considering an Ibiza FR but am unsure which engine Equally should I consider an alternative equivalent? It is a second car doing 5k miles per year and my budget is £7 to £9k. Your advice would be appreciated once again."
You'll be looking at a previous-generation SEAT Ibiza for £9k. It's not a bad car, although it was starting to feel a bit dated by the end of its lifespan. We've had a few issues reported with the TSI petrol engines, too, particularly around timing chain failure: A Ford Fiesta could be a good alternative. They're good to drive and the 1.25-litre petrol engine is pretty robust. Also consider a Suzuki Swift - they're cheap and cheerful, but surprisingly fun to drive and generally very reliable. You might be able to find a Sport model within budget, too.
Answered by Andrew Brady

Why is there a puddle under my car?

"When I start my SEAT Ibiza I see a small amount of water as I reverse for maybe two or three meters. Upon returning I can again see a puddle of water. Yet, when I look at the header tank it is showing the correct level. Any ideas as to what is happening?"
Does the car have air conditioning? If so, the water may simply be condensation. If you are concerned about the coolant or the level starts to drop then I'd recommend having it checked by a qualified mechanic.
Answered by Dan Powell

Could you recommend a small, cheap to run car with a bit of oomph?

"My 2003 Renault Megane convertible is about to die. I LOVE this car; it's so easy to drive, decent acceleration, good for longish journeys. But read tax is over £200 a year and insurance is fairly high. It also only does 35mpg. So, I'm looking for a 3-door, smaller car but I want something fun to drive that looks nice. Is there anything that looks funky, lovely to drive, has bit of power — but also has low road tax and insurance? Budget £3000, possibly £3500. I know I want the earth... Suzuki Swifts look cool but I've never driven one. Polos look boring, Corsas are too common, Fiestas don't really excite me. Thanks!"
A Suzuki Swift sounds like a good option. They're very reliable, cheap to run and represent excellent value for money on the used market. We rate the Fiesta, too, but it's certainly not an exciting choice. How about a SEAT Ibiza? It's a very trendy little car with low running costs.
Answered by Andrew Brady

When does my timing belt need changing?

"I have a SEAT Ibiza 1.2. When does timing belt need changing? It was never changed before."
Most belt failures we hear about are between 50,000-100,000 miles. That's why we recommend replacing the cam belt, tensioner and water pump every 50,000-60,000 miles or five years (whichever comes first).
Answered by Georgia Petrie
More Questions

What does a SEAT Ibiza (2008 – 2017) cost?