| First Drive | Barcelona, Spain | SEAT Ibiza 1.2 TSI |
We all know SEAT. Sporty. Sporty, sporty, sporty. A few of its cars aren't actually that sporty, but the Ibiza is the sort of thing SEAT does best. This new 1.2 TSI version brings sportiness to the masses: it's a rev-happy turbocharged petrol engine that does more than 50mpg. Tequila!
In the Metal
Hands up if you've seen an Ibiza
before. Nothing new to see here then. The termination of the 103bhp 1.6-litre petrol engine to make way for this 104bhp 1.2-litre TSI unit demands no exterior or interior revamp. It's just a nice way of making your petrol go further.
What you get for your Money
As of this month (November 2010) an Ibiza 1.2 TSI SE can be yours for £12,780, or a Sport (there's that word again) version for a little more. That represents a price increase of a few hundred pounds like-for-like compared to the old 1.6, though all manual versions now have stop-start and brake energy recovery as standard. All three Ibiza body styles (SC three-door, five-door hatchback and ST estate) get the engine.
And for a mere £450, the five-speed manual gearbox can be ditched and replaced by a seven-speed DSG automatic. We think that's incredible value for an option that can cost over a grand elsewhere.
The TSI turbo engine is more enjoyable to drive than the naturally aspirated 1.6-litre because it has a little more torque and lots more character. That it's more efficient too is a boon. So, you might say this is a thrills and boon affair. No? Ok then.
It's an interesting engine, because, while it's unobtrusively smooth and packs a reasonable enough punch low down - 129lb.ft from 1,550rpm - it prefers to be pushed. When it is, it growls like a three-cylinder engine (though it has four) and with an intensity slightly more exaggerated than should be the case. The 0-62mph run is officially timed at 9.8 seconds, which feels about on the money.
We drove both the manual and DSG versions, and for once preferred the latter. We always get on well with the unfussy quickness of DSG gear changes, but as keen driver types the default choice tends to be a manual here at Car Enthusiast
. However, we found that the seven-speed auto makes this Ibiza more comfy on the motorway than the five-speed manual does, because it settles at a lower engine speed. Given the relatively low outlay, we'd suggest you try DSG before dismissing it.
There are performance and emissions variances between the Ibiza body styles and transmission types. All manual cars emit 119g/km and return 55.4mpg combined, whereas DSG erodes those slightly to 124g/km and 53.3mpg. However, the three-door SC and five-door hatchback get to 62mph one tenth quicker with DSG. The ST estate is the slouch of the bunch, taking 10.2 seconds with manual and ten seconds flat with DSG.
If SEAT was an eccentric chef presiding over a tapas buffet, the Ibiza would be its signature dish. This 1.2 TSI is a sort of low fat seasoning that doesn't fundamentally change anything, but makes the dish that little bit more appealing. SEAT has grabbed another jar from the VW Group spice rack, and as ever things have improved.