What Is It?
This is the SEAT Ibiza, the Spanish company’s attempt at a supermini and based on the same underpinnings as Volkswagen Group contemporaries in the form of the Skoda Fabia, the Audi A1 and, yes, the Volkswagen Polo. What makes the Ibiza stand out among this lot, however, and against competitors from other manufacturers too, is that it looks sharp and it drives brilliantly. Mark’s full video review of the Ibiza Mk5 is right here but read on if you want a quick rundown on what we consider to be one of the very best cars in its supermini class.
What Does It Look Like?
Strong. Refreshed in 2021, the 5th-generation car was already pretty good-looking from launch as it was, but the inclusion of LED lights across the range – admittedly more basic on SE and SE Technology cars, but still LEDs – and some new alloy-wheel designs make this a stylish little supermini. It’s a particularly good piece of design because it still looks attractive in more sombre colours and on smaller wheels, just as much as it does as a sporty, up-spec FR version.
Inside, a cabin that was already high-quality has been improved with new infotainment screens, with even the smallest measuring a healthy 8.25 inches corner-to-corner. However, only moving one step up to an SE Technology car like ours sees the screen enlarged to 9.2 inches, while Full Link (Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and Mirror Link, basically) means connectivity is strong across the board.
How Does It Drive?
SEAT only offers 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder petrol engines for the Ibiza Mk5, which are perfectly sweet little units and more than capable of shifting what is a fairly light, compact car around at speeds that will keep up with general traffic flow. We’d advise you avoid the most basic engine, badged as an MPI, as that collection of 3 letters means it doesn’t have a turbocharger and so it proves to be a bit harder to keep the Ibiza ticking along.
The EcoTSI turbocharged engines all serve you much better for the kind of day-to-day driving grind we do these days, as they have more torque. In truth, the 95hp motor as driven here will be more than enough for most Ibiza buyers’ needs, although the zesty 110hp unit provides extra oomph without too much of a sacrifice in terms of fuel economy and CO2 emissions. If you need a DSG automatic gearbox, it’s only paired to the 110hp EcoTSI.
Where the Ibiza scores so highly is in the manner it goes through corners, with lots of grip, great steering and good control of its body. You’ll have fun in the SEAT on the right roads, without there being an out-and-out performance model as there is with some of its competitors, like the Ford Fiesta ST or the Volkswagen Polo GTI. However, don’t worry that this lively chassis somehow makes the Ibiza uncomfortable or unpleasant for regular driving duties, because it’s quiet, smooth and refined at all times – so it’s just as good on motorway hauls as it is pottering about town.
Is It A Practical And Well-Equipped Car?
Every Ibiza Mk5 model comes with 15-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, metallic paint, the 8.25-inch touchscreen infotainment, Bluetooth, DAB, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and safety gear like Emergency Brake Assist, Front Assist and a speed limiter, among more. Only one rung up the ladder and the SE Technology enjoys 16-inch alloys, larger 9.2-inch infotainment with 3D satnav mapping, and even Voice Control for various functions. Grander Ibiza models only become more generously equipped from there.
The Ibiza is also one of the most practical models in the class, as it only comes as a 5-door hatchback and has one of the largest boots in the sector with all the seats in play, the cargo space measuring 355 litres – almost as much as some larger hatchbacks, like the Volkswagen Golf (381 litres). Not only that, but the SEAT has a long wheelbase compared to similar rivals, so room for rear-seat passengers is more plentiful than in other superminis.
The Vanarama Verdict: 9/10
Our 3 Favourite Things
- One of the best superminis to drive.
- Has youthful appeal.
- Every model has at least 8.25-inch colour touchscreen infotainment.