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First drive: SEAT Ibiza 1.2. Image by Dave Smith.

First drive: SEAT Ibiza 1.2
SEAT's best-selling Ibiza gets a mid-life refresh.

   



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| First Drive | Barcelona, Spain | SEAT Ibiza 1.2 |

Overall rating: 4 4 4 4 4

Revised styling inside and out, more efficient engines and new options - what's not to like about the new SEAT Ibiza? Not a lot as it turns out, especially in the case of this talented 1.2-litre TSI model, which offers spirited performance, excellent refinement and miserly running costs.

Key Facts

Model tested: SEAT Ibiza SC 1.2 TSI SE DSG
Pricing: 13,605
Engine: 1.2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol
Transmission: seven-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
Body style: three-door hatchback
Rivals: Ford Fiesta, Peugeot 208, Kia Rio
CO2 emissions: 124g/km
Combined economy: 53.3mpg
Top speed: 118mph
0-62mph: 9.7 seconds
Power: 105 at 5,000rpm
Torque: 175Nm at 1,550rpm

In the Metal: 4 4 4 4 4

The changes to the outgoing car are minimal but the SEAT Ibiza, especially in three-door SC form, has always been one of the best-looking models in its class. Up front the headlamps are sharper, inspired by the IBX concept car, and the bonnet has a new central crease running its length. Along with some changes to the bumpers, it makes for a sharper and more aggressive outlook than before.

Alterations to the stylish cabin are even less obvious, with a clearer typeface for the instruments and a minor redesign of the climate control being the highlights. As before it continues to look sporty inside, and certainly more adventurous than many rivals, but some of the plastics disappoint with their hard and scratchy texture.

Driving it: 4 4 4 4 4

With no real drivetrain changes (save for some added efficiency) the Ibiza remains faithful to the previous generation from behind the wheel. No matter, as it still boasts some of the segment's best engines - the highlight being this turbocharged 1.2-litre petrol unit.


At the core of this engine's appeal though is its flexibility and ability to punch above its weight - the smooth revving unit allowing you to make best use of its 105hp and 175Nm. It remains impressively refined at motorway speeds too, and though the UK won't get this engine with the five-speed manual gearbox, the seven-speed dual-clutch DSG unit is perfectly suited.

And with 15-inch wheels and standard suspension the Ibiza is remarkably comfortable too - unlike the overly-firm FR models - and even proves entertainingly engaging on back roads. In fact our only real complaint remains with the steering, which, while accurate and sharp enough, never really offers as much feedback as keen drivers would want. Still, it's a small fly in the otherwise impressive ointment, and this 1.2-litre petrol engine is without doubt the current pick of the range.

What you get for your Money: 3 3 3 3 3

Unfortunately the manual gearbox seen in our pictures isn't available in the UK with this engine and trim level, but the excellent seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic DSG gearbox is. Still, for your 13,606, the SE-equipped Ibiza comes well equipped with air conditioning, 15-inch alloy wheels and heated door mirrors as standard. However the range of options is wider and includes cruise control, 16-inch alloys, an MP3 and USB compatible audio system, as well as climate control. But it's on running costs that the Ibiza SE scores highly, with annual road tax of just 100 thanks to the low CO2 emissions and better than 50mpg average economy.

Worth Noting

The SEAT Ibiza was launched into the UK in 1985, the original model famously benefitting from some Porsche engineering input. Ever since, it has been a mainstay of the brand and, except for one year (2007) when the Leon nudged ahead, has been the firm's best seller. With over 19,000 sold here last year, total global sales have now totalled over 4.5 million units.

Summary

On the face of it there might not be many changes to the SEAT Ibiza, but there was little in need of remedying anyway. It's now sharper looking, and while no sharper to drive, it is more efficient than before. In the case of the 1.2-litre TSI specifically, the Ibiza remains a convincing package, and one that anyone in need of a fun, economical and stylish supermini would do well to pay attention to.


Graeme Lambert. Photography by Dave Smith. - 2 Apr 2012



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2012 SEAT Ibiza. Image by Dave Smith.2012 SEAT Ibiza. Image by Dave Smith.2012 SEAT Ibiza. Image by Dave Smith.2012 SEAT Ibiza. Image by Dave Smith.2012 SEAT Ibiza. Image by Dave Smith.

2012 SEAT Ibiza. Image by Dave Smith.2012 SEAT Ibiza. Image by Dave Smith.2012 SEAT Ibiza. Image by Dave Smith.2012 SEAT Ibiza. Image by Dave Smith.2012 SEAT Ibiza. Image by Dave Smith.



2012 SEAT Ibiza. Image by Dave Smith.
 

2012 SEAT Ibiza. Image by Dave Smith.
 

2012 SEAT Ibiza. Image by Dave Smith.
 

2012 SEAT Ibiza. Image by Dave Smith.
 

2012 SEAT Ibiza. Image by Dave Smith.
 

2012 SEAT Ibiza. Image by Dave Smith.
 

2012 SEAT Ibiza. Image by Dave Smith.
 






 

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