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SECTOR Supermini PRICE €10,990 – €20,465 FUEL 3.4 – 5.9l/100km CO2 89 – 139g/km
With its mix of Audi-esque chiselled sportiness and Skoda-like affordability, SEAT has become a brand on the move. Profit jumped 41.3% last year, largely due to growing export sales, and it’s about to take its first steps into the potentially lucrative Chinese market.
As the brand’s biggest-selling model, the compact Ibiza has a key role to play in the carmaker’s continued growth, so a mid-life refresh is well timed and just as vital
to sustaining its momentum in Europe. SEAT’s performance in the region’s biggest markets is strong, and in addition to knocking Ford off the top sales slot in its home market – where the Ibiza is the best-selling car – it’s also grown its presence in Germany, France, the UK and Italy.
Followers of SEAT’s recent concept cars will find the most obvious update no
surprise. Few of the panels have been changed, but it’s a far more modern looking car thanks to the new chevron-clad headlamps, optionally lined with LEDs, almost identical to those seen on the 2007 IBZ concept car. Now designed by Spaniard Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos, the revisions bring it in line with the Mii, forthcoming Toledo and, more than likely, the next generation Leon due later this year.
But the IBZ concept was best known for previewing the Ibiza ST, and the biggest updates are found on the most practical model. Trim and engine choices now
fall in line with those of the hatchback,
meaning buyers can equip the Germanic-looking estate in FR form for the first time, and with almost the same engine line-up as the hatchback.
The range is identical across most markets, comprising of the entry-level Reference, mid-spec Style and sporty FR, while the low-carbon Ecomotive is found at the mid-range. A Cupra version – likely to use the same 1.4-litre 180hp petrol engine as its predecessor – will follow before the end of the year, but will probably only be offered in the three-door Sport Coupe body style.
What’s so pleasing about the Ibiza, even compared to the Fabia, is that the most stripped-down versions don’t feel cheap. SEAT uses high quality materials throughout the cabin, and even entry-level models have a solid, upmarket feel. Move further up the range and the FR feels thoroughly grown up, featuring body-hugging red-stitched sports seats, large alloy wheels and an optional dashboard-mounted
TomTom satellite navigation unit.
Under the bonnet, the engine range is almost the same as the outgoing car. Petrol units start with the gruff but surprisingly willing 70hp 1.2 12V and work up to the potent 150hp 1.4 TSI with a DSG gearbox, the most powerful on offer. A comprehensive range of diesels is offered across all body styles, with the 140hp
2.0-litre TDI CR optional for hatchback versions and the most efficient 89g/km 1.2-litre TDI CR Ecomotive carried forward from the outgoing model.
But the fit for most buyers is found in the mid-range. The 1.2-litre TSI and 1.6-litre TDI CR both offer an ample 105hp and respectable on-road performance, but with CO2 emissions of 119g/km and 112g/km respectively. The diesel sacrifices little in terms of refinement over its petrol counterpart, but the small TSI is the pick of the bunch. It’s a lively turbocharged engine that fits the sporty Ibiza’s character perfectly, and the only oversight is the lack of a sixth gear to give extra motorway efficiency.
Updates to SEAT’s biggest seller are subtle, but add up to an effective refresh for such an important model. Price, residuals and quality all shine.