- Punchy and efficient three-cylinder petrol engines
- Fun to drive with plenty of zip on the open road
- Practical and spacious for a small city car
- Quite a lot of plastic inside the cabin
- Strong opposition from the likes of Skoda and VW
- Fairly noisy at higher speeds
Since it was first launched back in 1984, the SEAT Ibiza has always been one of the finest city cars you could buy. With more than six million sales, it is the Spanish company’s most successful model and now the fifth generation has just received an update.
There is a good choice of well-priced and well-equipped trim levels to choose from and all the latest Ibiza models are powered by a three-cylinder, 1.0-litre petrol engine with power outputs ranging from 80PS, 95PS and 110PS.
There is a six-speed manual gearbox or seven-speed auto DSG box and the new car boasts a fresh look and lots of extra technical and safety kit to bring it bang up to date.
On The Road
The 2021 SEAT Ibiza is on sale in trim levels called SE, SE Technology, FR, FR Sport, XCELLENCE and XCELLENCE LUX. We opted for the FR Sport model which is likely to prove popular with buyers and it was powered by the 1.0 TSI 110PS engine matched to a six-speed manual gearbox.
The five-door Ibiza was sharp out the starting blocks and could complete the 0-62mph sprint in a very respectable 10.3 seconds with a top speed of 121mph.
Out on the open road, the car is eager to perform with ample power on tap to overtake slower moving vehicles. This was the most powerful version in the line-up and the acceleration was impressive on motorways and through the faster B roads.
Grip levels are good and there is no sign of body sway into bends which makes the Ibiza a city car that can easily cope with ventures further afield.
The gearbox is smooth and responsive and our FR Sport version certainly lived up to its name with all the fizz and firepower you could wish for without moving up to a premium-priced car.
The steering is nicely weighted and drive modes called Eco, Normal, Sport and Individual alter the reactions and responses of the car.
Our SEAT Ibiza FR Sport featured stiffer sports suspension for a firmer ride, but it’s still smooth enough over the uneven surfaces. You can expect to feel the occasional jolt through the cabin if you hit an unexpected pothole but it’s worth noting that the FR version sits on 17-inch wheels while FR Sport upgrades to 18-inch. That will be something to consider before signing on the dotted line. Obviously larger wheels look the business, but it can be to the detriment of ride quality.
For a compact city car, the Ibiza does put in a big performance with sharp, responsive handling that remains composed throughout. The steering is light enough for lots of twists and turns involved in day-to-day city driving, but feels weighty enough on motorways with juggernauts thundering alongside.
Some rivals are more fun through the switchback bends, but few offer the complete all-round package that the Ibiza does and for such an economical outlay too.
The engine is fairly refined, but you can expect to hear some noise when pushed hard and, in addition, road surface rumble becomes more noticeable on motorways too.
The latest Ibiza remains one of the easiest cars to drive but still offers plenty of personality along the way.
The five-door SEAT Ibiza is renowned for its funky, youthful styling and the latest model has received some subtle additions to the exterior that add a little more character to the mix.
The lighting now includes full LED technology as standard. The car still boasts short overhangs with wheels pushed out to the four corners for dynamic styling and also great stability. There are new alloy designs and paint colours, plus the latest model has its ‘Ibiza’ name embossed in handwritten lettering on the tailgate with the SEAT logo finished in two-tone chrome.
All models look attractive in their appearance and our FR Sport car lived up to its name-tag with a rear spoiler, twin exhaust pipes, dark tinted rear windows, exclusive FR bumpers and 18-inch Performance machined alloy wheels.
Moving inside, the Ibiza features new materials, a floating central infotainment system with larger screen, a new soft dashboard along with a Nappa leather steering wheel.
The driver and passenger air vents have been redesigned with illuminated LED lights on high-end trims and once again, our FR Sport version had its own specific detailing. This included microsuede upholstery, ambient lighting, FR styling with lots of chrome detailing, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and FR badging.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
The interior of the latest Ibiza is modern in its layout with a clutter-free, but feature-rich cockpit that’s very easy on the eye.
The seats and steering wheel can be manually adjusted to find the ideal driving position and all dials, controls and readouts are well positioned in this driver-focused vehicle.
The main focal point is the new floating central infotainment display with a larger 9.2-inch screen (8.25-inches on SE trim only). This touchscreen is positioned higher so is easier for the driver to see and there is also a high-end digital cockpit display behind the steering wheel.
With connectivity and staying in touch with the outside world a vital factor in modern cars, the Ibiza is becoming more and more digital and offers full in-car connectivity via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. There is also voice recognition which is activated by uttering the magic ‘Hola, Hola’ wake-up call. This can then be used for a number of actions such as asking for navigation directions or searching for music.
There is real-time traffic information so the sat nav routes can be adjusted accordingly and the Beats sound system is pitch perfect too.
And for more advanced features, the SEAT Connect app can be used to lock or unlock doors, set up speed alerts, check remaining driving range, sound the horn and activate indicators in a busy car park and lots more besides – all from a mobile phone or tablet.
Space & Practicality
The SEAT Ibiza is a practical vehicle as far as city cars go with room in the back for a couple of adults provided the seats are not pushed right back. There is a seatbelt for a third but then the occupants would really need to be children.
The high roofline means six footers will not be ducking down to avoid the headliner and the bright interior, along with the panoramic sunroof (a £685 option) gives the car a light, spacious feel.
The deep boot is well sized with a 355-litre capacity and low loading lip to make it easier to pack awkwardly-shaped or heavier items. The 60:40 split-folding rear seats are quickly lowered and that frees up a generous 1,165 litres of storage space.
And there are numerous convenient nooks and crannies for storing goodies, including a glovebox, door pockets with a compartment to safely hold a water bottle, seat back pockets, three trays and two front cup holders.
The Ibiza is a perfect city run-around and its compact dimensions measuring 4,059mm in length, 1,780mm wide with a 2,568mm wheelbase make it easy enough to park too.
The SEAT Ibiza line-up is priced from £16,790 for the entry-level SE model with 80PS and rises to £22,030 for the high-end XCELLENCE Lux version with DSG automatic transmission and 110PS.
Our test model – the Ibiza FR Sport 110PS with manual gearbox – was priced at £20,860 although optional extras such as a space saver spare wheel (£105), Beats sound system (£495) and panoramic sunroof (£685) saw the final cost rise to £22,145.
According to official figures, under WLTP testing, our car could deliver a combined of 48.7-52.5mpg with carbon emissions of 123g/km. This CO2 figure would result in a first year Vehicle Excise Duty charge of £180 dropping to the standard rate of £155 after 12 months. For business users, the car has a Benefit in Kind tax rating of 28 per cent.
The SEAT Ibiza FR Sport 110PS, as tested, sits in insurance group 12.
Quality & Reliability
SEAT has a fairly middle-of-the-road reputation when it comes to reliability and the new car certainly feels well-constructed with strong upholstery and switchgear designed to survive the test of time.
There is a fair amount of hard plastic surfaces which will bring benefits and disadvantages. They are easy to keep clean from spills, but also show signs of wear after a while due to scratching.
Unlike some rival models, all the climate control operations on the Ibiza are carried out via a separate panel and that means the touchscreen is not pushed and prodded to simply reduce the cabin temperature. It also means it gets less fingerprint smudges.
The SEAT Ateca is supplied with a standard three-year, 60,000-mile warranty. But it is worth noting that the likes of Toyota, Kia, SsangYong and Hyundai do offer more attractive warranty packages.
Safety & Security
The SEAT Ibiza secured a maximum five stars when it was tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating and the latest car integrates a number of new driver assist systems to make it safer than ever before.
The Ibiza already featured adaptive cruise control, front assist and tiredness recognition, but new Ibiza boasts lane assist, traffic sign recognition and also high beam that automatically switches the headlights from high to low beam so oncoming drivers are not dazzled.
All models have hill hold assist, emergency brake assist, speed limiter, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, ISOFIX fittings, tyre pressure monitoring plus a full suite of airbags.
There is a built-in eSIM that delivers an eCall service. This will directly contact the emergency services should an incident occur. Vital data such as the exact GPS position of the vehicle will be relayed along with the engine type and number of passengers.
An anti-theft alarm system will keep any uninvited attention at bay.
For almost four decades, the stylish and fun-loving Ibiza has proved to be one of the best city cars on our roads and the latest facelifted fifth-generation model easily upholds that status. Great value, great to drive and great to look at too.
*T&Cs apply, check SEAT for details