Review: SEAT Ibiza facelift

All hail to the updated Ibiza, giving more zoom to the motor with pzazz. On its 30th anniversary, with a modest five million sales under its seatbelt, an update to this natty little number will boost its popularity ahead of a completely new model release in the next two years.

The update means the Ibiza three-door SC model, five-door and estate ST model will continue to be available. Launched at the Barcelona motor show, it’s expected to be available in the UK by Autumn.

Exterior

Changes to the popular exterior have been limited. Its lights now feature different, bi-xenon headlights (brighter and more efficient than halogen), and daytime LED front and rear lights. For its finish, a couple of additional paint colours and alloy wheel designs are now available, adding more customisable options to the Ibiza’s already cool looks.

Where the polish has been added, and the fun begins, is inside the cabin and under the bonnet.

Interior

Whilst its up-to-date looks were obvious from the outside, the cabin was a different matter. Previously, the digital display and entertainment system just didn’t cut it and dull materials let it down. Not at all what you’d expect from the exterior of this sleek, super-groomed supermini.

So, first off, the dated design has been replaced with soft-touch plastics and a central dashboard-integrated touchscreen on all but the entry-level S models. This features USB connector, Bluetooth, audio streaming, navigator and the option of the Full Link system, enabling connectivity with Android and iPhones. An optional DAB radio is also available.

Full Link can be used with Android MirrorLink or Apple CarPlay. Mirrorlink lets you run approved apps on your smartphone and control them with the car’s interface. So when you’re ready to update your smartphone for the next coolest model, you don’t have to worry whether it’ll be compatible with your car.

Apple CarPlay does the same as Mirrorlink but for the iPhone. It means you can see the phone’s display on the car’s screen and can access a range of functions – your music for example, contacts and apps. This new Full Link multimedia system is standard on the CONNECT model, and can be fitted otherwise for a further £150.

The SEAT Drive App enables you to use your mobile safely. It introduces features to encourage efficient driving, such as storing and comparing journeys. It means your phone can cleverly lead you to where your car is parked. It even reads your instant messages, emails, social media posts and tweets out loud while you drive, eliminating screen-based distraction. These developments in connectivity are the first of many that SEAT aims to introduce following a strategic agreement made with Samsung.

On the road

Always at the sporty end of the superminis, driving feels even more fun with a new, sportier steering wheel, newly designed instrument cluster and customisable interiors. And it’s so cool – in more ways than one. Air conditioning at the flick of a switch is standard in the SE spec range.

If it’s smooth you want, you won’t be disappointed. The suspension and steering are now more responsive after slight modifications, with optional adaptive dampers operating in comfort or sport mode. Another improvement on earlier models, known for their slightly harder ride.

And the crucial question: does it have va va voom? You bet. A range of brand new engines has been added, giving you plenty of bite. For example, first off the blocks is the 74bhp 1.0-litre motor, with turbocharged versions also available at 89bhp and 109bhp.

You want more power, you say? No problem. The Ibiza also comes with a range of 1.4-litre engines including the turbocharged four-cylinder ‘ACT’ engine providing a whacking 148bhp.

Verdict

And now the best bit: More power doesn’t mean more cash. 80mpg is promised from the new three-cylinder diesel engines, with even the 1.4-litre turbocharged version giving nearly 60mpg.

The cleaner engines mean you save on tax, with a choice of two petrol and two diesel engines squeaking in under the 100g/km bar. The 89bhp turbo charged petrol-engine has CO2 emissions of 94g/km and the manual 1.0 TSI has 99g/km.

And it costs less than comparable models too. A starting price of around £11,500 for the entry-level three-door 74bhp petrol model is expected. That’s £1,600 less than the mechanically identical VW Polo. Add air-conditioning, a sporty ride and sleek looks, and at £12,500, the revamped SEAT Ibiza smacks of affordable style.

Check out all SEAT models at Perry’s dealerships near you.