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First drive: 2015 SEAT Ibiza. Image by SEAT.

First drive: 2015 SEAT Ibiza
It doesn't look facelifted, but the 2015 SEAT Ibiza is better than ever.

   



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2015 SEAT Ibiza

4 4 4 4 4

Laziest facelift ever or a moment of genius? The SEAT Ibiza has never lacked in the looks department; the dull interior was the let-down. By focusing on that, technology and a host of engineering changes SEAT has righted the wrongs while at the same time retaining the good looks.

Test Car Specifications

Model: SEAT Ibiza five-door SE 1.0-litre Eco TSI
Pricing: 13,875 as tested. Ibiza range starts at 10,000
Engine: 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol
Transmission: five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Body-style: five-door hatchback (three-door and estate models also available)
CO2 emissions: 94g/km
Combined economy: 68.9mpg
Top speed: 119mph
0-62mph: 10.4 seconds
Power: 95hp at 5,000rpm
Torque: 160Nm at 1,500rpm
Boot space: 292 litres

What's this?

This is the 2015 SEAT Ibiza, the 30-year old Spanish supermini and first member of the SEAT family to get 'Leon-ised' - SEAT's word not ours. It appears that the chiefs in Martorell are quite happy with the fit and finish of their Golf-sized hatchback and plan for it to inspire the rest of the range. In essence it means that the dull, grey plastics that has blighted SEATs for generations is to be phased out in favour of much more acceptable soft-touch materials with a more mature and interesting design.

This is a good thing, as without the new Leon-ish dashboard you would be hard pushed to pick this Ibiza out as a 'new' car. Externally the remit of this facelift seems to have stopped at the fitment of LED daytime running lights on SE models and above, two new paint options and a personalisation suite that allows buyers to colour code items such as the wing mirror caps, alloy wheels and vent surrounds inside.

In addition to the dashboard of the Leon the 2015 Ibiza also raids its big brother's closet for the multi-function steering wheel and five-inch touchscreen infotainment system. That system is standard across the range, but Connect cars and above bump this up to a 6.5-inch unit with built in SEAT Full Link. Incorporating Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink it allows your car and smartphone to communicate with each other and tap into some of your favourite smartphone apps. As part of a tie-up with Samsung all Connect models get a free Samsung Galaxy A3 (worth about 250) as part of the package.

How does it drive?

A free phone is interesting but it is not as important as the changes that have taken place under the skin of the Ibiza. Sometimes accused of being too stiff in pursuit of sportiness the latest car features revised spring and damper rates to soften it a little - make it more manageable day-to-day. The effect is obvious with the Ibiza feeling much more composed than before. It can still come unstuck on broken surfaces at low speeds but on the move it feels almost as mature as the Volkswagen Polo. To counteract the suspension losing some of it edge the electric power steering has been tweaked to give the tiller more feel. It is heavier in hand for sure but whether it communicates anymore with you than before is debateable. A Ford Fiesta beater it is not, but the Ibiza would still probably show a clean pair of heels to the Vauxhall Corsa and Mazda2.

A lot of that is down to a new range of engines. We have seen all variants of the Volkswagen Group's three-cylinder units across its various brands, but the Ibiza is the first member of the supermini family to get all derivatives: naturally aspirated 75hp and turbocharged 95- and 110hp versions, the latter mated to a DSG automatic transmission. There is also a 1.4-litre three-cylinder diesel with outputs of 75-, 90- and 105hp available. The only four-cylinder engines to be carried over from the current model are the 1.2-litre, which gains 5hp, and the 1.4-litre cylinder-on-demand engine (same as the Polo BlueGT) that now packs 150hp - up 10 horses.

Badged as an Eco TSI the 90hp version of the three-cylinder petrol is likely to be a popular choice with buyers by virtue of its sub-100g/km emissions. Despite carrying that Eco badge it is no gutless eco-special though. It can be found wanting at low revs but once the turbocharger comes on song it zooms along with delightful fervour. Better yet, it's said to return 68.9mpg. Who needs a diesel?

Verdict

In the past people have recognised the SEAT Ibiza for what it is - a cut price Polo - and forgiven it some of its cheapness, but with this update there is no need. The Leon-inspired interior is as classy as you will find in this category while the addition of smartphone compatibility will appeal to some. The bigger news though are the mechanical changes - the suspension may have lost some of its edge but overall the Ibiza is more polished, more grown up. And still 1,600 cheaper than an equivalent Polo.

4 4 4 4 4 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

3 3 3 3 3 Passenger Space

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Luggage Space

4 4 4 4 4 Safety

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Comfort

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Paul Healy - 5 Jun 2015



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2015 SEAT Ibiza. Image by SEAT.2015 SEAT Ibiza. Image by SEAT.2015 SEAT Ibiza. Image by SEAT.2015 SEAT Ibiza. Image by SEAT.2015 SEAT Ibiza. Image by SEAT.

2015 SEAT Ibiza. Image by SEAT.2015 SEAT Ibiza. Image by SEAT.2015 SEAT Ibiza. Image by SEAT.2015 SEAT Ibiza. Image by SEAT.2015 SEAT Ibiza. Image by SEAT.



2015 SEAT Ibiza. Image by SEAT.
 

2015 SEAT Ibiza. Image by SEAT.
 

2015 SEAT Ibiza. Image by SEAT.
 

2015 SEAT Ibiza. Image by SEAT.
 

2015 SEAT Ibiza. Image by SEAT.
 

2015 SEAT Ibiza. Image by SEAT.
 






 

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