Winner of Best Small Car at the What Car? Car of the Year 2018 awards, the SEAT Ibiza has a lofty reputation at the moment. It's more than just a recent success though, as this compact hatchback has been a great all-rounder for some time, being similar to the Polo offered by SEAT's parent company, Volkswagen, but with added style. It is typically SEAT's best-selling car and is popular with city residents and young drivers alike, thanks to its easy drive, low running costs and decent practicality. On the used market, both Mk4 (2008-17) and Mk5(2017-) models offer great value, while the Ibiza Cupra and Ibiza FR offer sportier performance and looks.
SEAT cars tend to have a distinctive look and the Ibiza is no exception. Both generations have an eye-catching front with angled headlights and a trapezium-shaped grille, adding Spanish flair to a conventional compact supermini body. The Mk5 models bring even more style with an updated design on the LED headlights and sharp creases on the bonnet and sides, creating a dynamic appearance. With SEAT, Volkswagen Group tends to target a younger buying audience, and its sporty looks will certainly appeal to young professionals.
You can tell you're in a Volkswagen-based car when you sit in the Ibiza, as the build quality is very solid. The dashboard layout is simple and easy-to-use, while there are some nice sporty touches in the latest generation, including supportive sports seats and a nice low driving position. Both generations are well-equipped too. The popular and affordable Toca trim level for the Mk4 comes with air con, alloy wheels and Sat Nav as standard, plus the option of cruise control.
The best-selling SE trim for the Mk5, meanwhile, brings 15-inch alloys, LED daytime running lights and a 5-inch colour touchscreen with infotainment system. If you've got a bit more to spend, optional extras include a Beats sound system, the Connectivity Hub (which enables wireless phone charging and boosts phone signal) and adaptive cruise control.
Given its target market, the Ibiza is easy to drive as you'd expect, but it goes beyond that, providing some sportiness and fun as well. It handles nicely and performs well in both crowded city centres and twisty country roads, where it can be a joy to drive. Comfort is not sacrificed either with a supple suspension that soaks up bumps easily. The Ibiza is therefore a versatile car that manages to match its sporty image with engaging performance, yet still has all the comfort that a supermini needs.
Superminis aren't built to carry masses of cargo, but for this class the Ibiza is impressively practical. The boot size is among the best in the class, and the rear seats can be folded down to increase this significantly. Passenger space is good too, particularly in the latest generation, in which two adults can sit in the rear in comfort. Note that 3-door models are only available in the Mk4 generation, whereas 5-door models are available in both generations and are more suitable for families. Safety is very good too, with the Ibiza being given a 5-star crash rating in 2008.
Engines and transmissions
The Ibiza's diverse customer base is reflected by a broad range of engines to suit a variety of lifestyles. Petrol options for the Mk4 include turbocharged 1.0-litre and 1.2-litre engines, which are nippy enough for zipping around town and are economical with 68.9mpg and 57.6mpg respectively. The 1.2-litre diesel is economical too with 65mpg when you get the Ecomotive version.
The Mk5's options include a punchy turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol with a couple of different outputs. This is ideal for both town and the motorway and is available with either five-speed or six-speed manual gearboxes, both of which are extremely slick.
If you want something even more powerful, SEAT offers the Ibiza Cupra, which is a true hot hatch with a 1.8-litre 4 cylinder turbo engine. The Ibiza FR, meanwhile, is available with a range of turbo engines and a manual gearbox that provides plenty of driving enjoyment.
The Ibiza is suitable for a range of different lifestyles. Whether you need a car for pottering around town, taking the kids to school, or motorway driving, it's a stylish and sporty option. It's most popular with drivers in their 20s and 30s, but offers great value to whoever buys it. The fact that this is an award-winning car comes as no surprise.Search used SEAT Ibiza