If there’s one SEAT model turning heads more than any other these days, it’s definitely the hugely-successful Leon.
Sleek, sophisticated and with a pleasingly dynamic performance, it’s also available in an array of bodystyles, trims and configurations, and you’d therefore be forgiven for thinking that the Leon is SEAT’s golden goose.
However, while the Leon has certainly been making a considerable amount of noise about itself in the past year or so, it’s actually the Ibiza that remains the company’s number-one model.
The most popular SEAT car by quite a margin, the Ibiza is not only the best-selling SEAT, but also the best-selling and most-exported Spanish car of all time. Placed end-to-end, the total number of Ibiza models produced would stretch roughly the distance between SEAT’s plant in Spain and New Zealand.
It has the numbers behind it, but what else does it have? The estate version of the Leon, the Leon ST, has gathered quite a bit of critical buzz since its release, thanks to its quick ride and huge boot, but what about the Ibiza ST?
Perhaps slightly overlooked in favour of its younger brother, the Ibiza ST has nonetheless proven itself more than capable, having been named the Most Rated Car by buyer website Honest John after proving popular with buyers.
At first glance, it might look similar to other small estates in the same mould as certain Peugeot models, but is there more to it than that? Read on and find out!
SEAT has always liked to put a fair amount of effort into making its cars as appealing to look at as possible, and that’s no less true for the Ibiza ST.
Although it was introduced in 2010 and last updated in 2012, it still sports a contemporary exterior look, with bold features on both ends and some seriously stylish lines and creases along the side for a slick, swift and dynamic appearance.
Compared with some of its rivals, it’s distinctly less boxy-looking, which will appeal to drivers who want practicality without sacrificing style points.
Although it’s unmistakably an estate model, the Ibiza ST is actually only 180mm longer than your standard Ibiza hatchback, which means that it’s not unwieldy to look at and is also fairly compact.
Another advantage of its relatively compact dimensions means that it’s easy to navigate around streets and tight B roads, while squeezing it into your average parking space without leaving any bits sticking out will be a doddle.
Complementing its sleek design is bi-xenon headlights, plus an optional panoramic sunroof to let more light into the cabin, along with 17-inch alloy wheels.
The larger dimensions of the ST over the hatchback adds on an extra 130 litres of boot space, bringing the total up to a pretty impressive 430 litres of luggage space.
Folding down the rear seats (which can also split in a handy 60:40 configuration) expands the luggage space to a huge 1,164 litres. It’s not quite as spacious as some of its rivals, but considering that it’s on the compact side for an estate, and it’s pretty remarkable overall.
The Ibiza ST’s five doors are slightly longer than those found on the five-door hatchback, which improves access, while rear legroom is also a lot better for lankier passengers.
Interestingly, the roof on the ST estate version is slightly higher than on the standard hatchback, meaning that there’s more rear headroom, a common complaint in the hatch version.
Standard Volkswagen Group affair bedecks the cabin, with a useful and solidly-built interior that feels and looks solid. The controls are all very easy to find and use, which will please drivers unimpressed with the various gizmos found in some new cars, while all models also come with a height-adjustable driver’s seat and two-way steering adjustment.
The only downfall is the Ibiza ST’s relative age when compared to some of its contemporaries; in the two years since it was last updated, SEAT and the rest of the manufacturer world has moved on and is now adding more and more lavish kit as standard.
Still, even entry-level models come with a surprisingly comprehensive amount of kit, which includes air conditioning, an MP3-compatible CD player with steering-mounted audio controls, electric front windows and remote central locking.
Moving up through the trims adds more premium features like body-coloured bumpers, cruise control and a six-speaker sound system, while the range-topping Sport model gets tinted windows, sports suspension and seats, plus a leather steering wheel for extra racy appeal.
On the road
In total, six engines are available for the Ibiza ST, consisting of three petrols and three diesels, the smallest of each labelled with a special Ecomotive pack to boost economy.
If maximising fuel efficiency is your bag, the 1.2-litre diesel Ecomotive won’t disappoint, as it can return up to a massive 80.7mpg with CO2 emissions of only 92g/km, meaning that you’ll be road tax free.
The only complaint is that these smaller engines are a little bit weedy on the road, but SEAT does offer a range of larger units for those who like a little excitement beneath the bonnet.
The 1.6-litre turbocharged diesel, which generates 103bhp, is possible the best choice for those who like a good mix of everyday usability that can pull hard when you put your foot down.
While its engines mightn’t be all that exciting, the Ibiza ST certainly excels when it’s on the tarmac, particularly when specified with larger wheels and the ever-so-slightly firmer suspension in Sport trim.
Smooth and controlled most of the time, its compact body dimensions go a long way to help keep it agile, and it needs a particularly nasty bump or pothole to upset it. Body roll is minimal, while the handling is predictable and secure.
Compared with the hatchback, you can feel its extra size, but it never seems clumsy or uncontrollable, and it’s a pretty fun car to drive when compared with some of its soggier estate counterparts.
One of the few compact supermini-based estates on the market, the Ibiza ST occupies its market well and offers a very capable and likeable car.
It’s got a good mix of engines to appeal to most drivers, though if you’re looking for a high-performance hot estate, the Ibiza ST isn’t the car for you. It’s not without its flaws, but it’s a very good all-rounder and in its sparsely populated market segment, it’s an easy winner.
Prices for the SEAT Ibiza ST currently start from £15,080. For more information, get in touch with your local Perrys SEAT dealership today!