SEAT Ibiza

Debut: 2017
Maker: SEAT
Predecessor: Ibiza Mk4 (2008)

 Published on 8 Jun 2017
All rights reserved. 

Ibiza is the first application of MQB A0 platform, whose development was led by Seat.

Benefited by a good look, the last generation Seat Ibiza was able to live 9 long years, 50% longer than the class norm. However, in the latter half of its life it felt really outdated, no matter in terms of interior packaging, equipment, ride or handling. Fortunately, Seat has not been sitting down and counting fingers. In the past few years, it has been leading the development of MQB A0 platform, which is the smaller derivative of the Volkswagen group MQB platform. It will underpin not only the new Ibiza but also a small crossover (Arona), the next generation Volkswagen Polo, Skoda Fabia and Audi A1. In particular, the two Seat and Audi will be built at the Barcelona plant on the same production line, demonstrating the production flexibility of MQB concept. As the new Ibiza is the first application of MQB A0, its success or not will be crucial to not only the Spanish brand but also the entire Volkswagen group.

Leon Junior-like styling lifts it above most rivals.

First impression at the first glance: is this the Leon Junior? Yes, the new Ibiza looks very much like its bigger brother – the same shape, the same crisped crease lines and angular expression, the same triangular LED headlights, the same trapezoidal fascia and bumper intake… if anything, the smaller car is even more angular and even sharper, particularly the taillights, C-pillars and hatchback door. Although by no means mold-breaking, it looks smarter and sportier than any Volkswagen-group superminis, but without going over-the-top like Nissan Micra or Toyota Yaris. It is also easily more stylish than its Korean rivals, Kia Rio and Hyundai i20. Maybe not good enough to sustain another 9 years, but I think it will endure the test of time much better than most others.

The new car keeps the same length and height of the old car, but its width and wheelbase gain massively – 87mm and 95mm respectively. This proves that the MQB A0 platform uses space more efficiently, thanks to the use of higher tensile strength steel, which allows smaller section parts to be used. The wheelbase is now 2564mm, not quite as long as Renault Clio (2589mm), but matches or exceeds all other key rivals in the class. Its 1780mm width is class-leading, wide enough to match an average C-segment car.

Spacious cabin is matched with style and adequate build quality.

Inside, while the cabin does not feel as wide as the cars a class above, rear passengers do enjoy 35mm stretch of legroom thus it is a true 4-seater, or an occasional 5-seater. Thanks to a flatter roof, front and rear headroom are boosted by 24 and 17mm respectively. Miraculously, the boot is enlarged as well, from 292 to a remarkable 355 liters.

The driving position is good and the seat is well shaped. Instruments are no fancy but clear to read. The minimalist dashboard design is well matched with the upmarket 8-inch touchscreen. Predictably, the dashboard and door panels are made of hard plastics to keep cost down, so the Ibiza is not going to challenge VW Polo or a top-spec. Nissan Micra for tactile quality, but the hard plastics here are well grained thus they look like expensive stuff as long as you don’t touch them. As for ergonomics, there are some shortcomings: the air-con controls are located too low for easy reach, the infotainment screen could have been easier to read if it were placed higher, and the cabin has few storage cubbies.

150hp FR is likely to be the range-topper. Sadly, no Cupra on the pipeline.

Unsurprisingly, the Ibiza is offered with the latest Volkswagen group small engines:

- 1.0-liter 3-cylinder, 75hp;
- 1.0 TSI 3-cylinder DI turbo, 95hp or 115hp;
- 1.5 TSI EA211 Evo 4-cylinder DI VTG turbo, 150hp;
- 1.6 TDI turbo diesel, 80hp, 95hp or 115hp.

The focus has to be 1.0TSI 115hp and 1.5TSI. Unexpectedly, the 3-cylinder is more eager to rev and produces a sweeter sound, while the four-cylinder is more flexible, more refined and has less turbo lag low down. Both are available to the sporty FR model. What about Cupra? Sadly, it is reportedly cancelled, probably as the aftermath of dieselgate hence cost-cutting. As a result, the 150hp FR is already the fastest Ibiza. With a 0-60 mph time of just over 7 seconds when paired with DSG gearbox, it feels brisk, but nowhere as fast or exciting as a hot hatch should.

The new chassis is remarkably refined, more so than any rivals except Polo...

However, the chassis is good enough. It is 30 percent stiffer in torsional rigidity than the last generation. On the road, this translates to impressive refinement. The suspension rides smoothly and quietly. Even the stiffer suspension and larger wheels of FR models will absorb bumps on back roads at ease. Coupling to a relatively quiet cabin, the new Ibiza feels like a big car, more so than any cars in the class except Polo. The car steers well, too. Although the electric power steering offers little real feel, it is precise and consistently weighted. Attack corners, the car displays a responsive turn-in, good grip and nice balance through the corner. It resists understeer well. A Ford Fiesta may roll less and be more throttle-steerable. A Mazda 2 is also more fun to drive. But the Seat combines good handling with a composure and refinement not found on its rivals. Besides, it is also a roomier and more modern package. In fact, if we were not so serious about driving thrills, we would have chosen it instead of Fiesta as the new class leader.

Length / width / height
Valve gears
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Ibiza 1.0TSI
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4059 / 1780 / 1444 mm
2564 mm
999 cc
DOHC 12 valves, DVVT
115 hp
148 lbft
6-speed manual
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
1065 kg
121 mph (c)
8.7 (c)
Ibiza FR 1.5TSI
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4059 / 1780 / 1444 mm
2564 mm
Inline-4, Miller cycle
1498 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT
VTG turbo
150 hp
184 lbft
7-speed twin-clutch
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
1115 kg (est)
134 mph (c)
7.1 (c)

Performance tested by: -

AutoZine Rating

General models

    Copyright© 1997-2017 by Mark Wan @ AutoZine