SEAT Ibiza review
The SEAT Ibiza is a comfortable, fun to drive small car that’s had an interior overhaul for 2021, improving tech and quality.
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In the world of superminis, the SEAT Ibiza is pretty sexy, with its chiselled design and perfect proportions.
It’s so pleasing on the eye, in fact, that it looks no different after receiving a mid-life update for 2021. However, where the old car’s pretty body was cashing checks its dull cabin couldn’t cash, the new one has some substance inside.
There’s a big new strip of silver dash trim, which combines with some coloured air vents, a soft-touch upper dash, new screens and a new steering wheel. Doesn’t sound like much, but it does liven things up quite a bit, while surfaces feel nicer to the touch. It’s a shame the door cards are still so plasticky, though.
The front seats come with a decent range of adjustment as standard but no models are offered with the option of lumbar support to ease backache on long drives, and you only get a front centre armrest in high-spec models.
Entry-level cars ditch the previously tiny centre screen – it was so small it looked like a mid-2000s phone – for a proper 8.25in touchscreen with Bluetooth, DAB Radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, allowing you to connect your modern-day phone and mirror its apps on the screen. Mid-range cars and above get a chunky 9.2in screen that also brings sat-nav, too, while top models finally bring fully digital instruments to the Ibiza range.
You won’t hear too many complaints from those in the back. The SEAT Ibiza is pretty spacious for a small car – there’s a fair amount of legroom and even six-footers will have headroom to spare.
The SEAT Ibiza is not perfect but it’s a really good small car with a neat, tidy interior and loads of space for passengers
Also the SEAT Ibiza’s boot is an impressive size for a small car. It has 355 litres compared to the Fiesta’s 292 litres and has a large square opening so it’s fairly easy to load large items. Fold the seats down and the boot floor is nearly completely flat. There’s room for some valuables under the false floor, too, and a few handy hooks will stop your shopping bags rolling around.
You can get the SEAT Ibiza with three 1.0-litre petrol engines. The pick of the range is the 95hp petrol that’ll return around 50mpg. It’s reasonably quiet at speed but isn’t quite the smoothest engine of its type.
The 80hp and 95hp Ibizas come with a five-speed manual gearbox, while the 110hp car has a six-speed manual, with a seven-speed twin-clutch automatic as an £1,100 option. This auto will make lengthy traffic jams and long journeys a little more bearable.
You don’t have to worry about spending extra money making the SEAT Ibiza safe. Euro NCAP awarded the Ibiza an impressive five-star safety rating thanks to its strong occupant protection and standard automatic emergency city braking.
It’s another feather in the SEAT Ibiza’s cap. It’s a smart-looking, capable small family car that’s definitely worth considering if you’re looking for something that’s both practical and a little sporty.
The SEAT Ibiza is happy carrying two adults in the back and it has a bigger boot than some larger family cars, but its narrow body means three rear passengers will be short on shoulder room.
SEAT has managed to find enough space inside the Ibiza’s small body for you to question whether or not you really need a bigger car
There’s plenty of room behind the wheel to get comfortable, even if you’re over six-foot tall, and all models come with a height-adjustable seat and a wheel that adjust both in and out and up and down.
Unfortunately, only higher-spec variants get height adjustment for the passenger seat also. Both the standard and sporty FR front seats (and the posher suede-like top-spec versions) are supportive and comfortable but neither are available with adjustable lumbar support to save you from backache on long journeys.
The SEAT Ibiza is one of the better small cars for carrying people in the back. Your passengers will be treated to more headroom than in a VW Polo or Nissan Micra and just as much legroom, but sitting three abreast will still be a slight struggle.
The Ibiza’s rear door openings are fairly wide, but it’s a little awkward to twist the seat into position. The Ibiza’s low roofline means you’ll have to stoop down to fit the seat base if you’re very tall, too.
Don’t expect the Ibiza to be awash with handy cubby holes. Its door bins are far from the biggest around and the two cupholders beside the handbrake are only big enough for a small bottle of water.
The glovebox is fairly generous, however, and there’s a small tray under the centre console that’ll happily hold a large smartphone.
You’ll be able to squeeze in 355 litres of luggage into the SEAT Ibiza with the rear seats and parcel shelf in place. That’s more than most small cars can muster, although the latest Skoda Fabia has a bigger boot still.
Two large suitcases will fit sitting on their sides, and there’s enough space left over for an extra small suitcase. Unfortunately, the SEAT Ibiza’s sloping rear windscreen means there isn’t space for a few large boxes – even if you remove the parcel shelf.
Once you’ve folded the rear seats there’ll be a sizeable step in the boot floor unless you pay extra for the adjustable false floor option. This makes sliding in long items a lot easier and gives you somewhere to hide valuables out of sight underneath – it’s well worth the money.
There’s a slight boot lip to contend with but the Ibiza’s large, square boot opening means loading bulky or oddly shaped luggage isn’t too difficult. There’s even space to carry a bike with both its wheels attached if you fold the back seats down. A few handy tethering points, some shopping hooks and two elastic straps will help stop small items rolling around in the back, too.
The SEAT Ibiza is comfortable, quiet and quite good fun, and the engines are good performers – if a touch noisy.
SEAT has trimmed down the range of engine options available on the Ibiza to just three. The old four-cylinder 1.5-litre flagship engine has gone, and there are no diesels.
All three units are 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engines, with the higher two featuring turbochargers. The entry level units put out 80hp or 95hp and have a five-speed manual gearbox, while the 110hp version gets six speeds. They’re strong performers for their size, but some rival three-cylinder units are smoother and quieter.
We’d avoid the non-turbo 80hp version unless you really need the low insurance group. Pick the frugal – yet still perfectly fast enough – 95hp version if you spend most time driving around town. SEAT claims it’ll return 51.4mpg but you’ll probably see a figure in the high-forties in real-world driving.
The 110hp model is slightly punchier on the motorway, so would be the choice if you regularly do long distances.
The 110hp SEAT Ibiza can be had with a smooth twin-clutch automatic gearbox, too.. This unit will set you back around £1,100 more than a conventional manual ‘box but will help take the stress out of long journeys and seemingly endless traffic jams.
The SEAT Ibiza is easy to drive around town thanks to its light controls and decent visibility. It soaks up bumps fairly well, too, and settles into a more comfortable motorway cruise than many other small cars. You’ll hear quite a bit of tyre noise at speed in the Ibiza but wind noise is limited to a slight whistle from around the door mirrors.
Pick a sportier FR car and you’ll notice its stiffer suspension and larger alloy wheels make it slightly bumpier around town but it never feels overwhelmed by small bumps or poorly maintained road surfaces.
Even less sporty SE cars are good fun to drive. The steering feels sharp and it doesn’t lean excessively in tight corners or wallow over bumps. It won’t put quite the same grin on your face as a Ford Fiesta, but the SEAT Ibiza is still a laugh to throw around.
The Ibiza’s large side windows and thin rear roof pillars make it easy to glance over your shoulder before changing lanes on a motorway while its square rear windscreen gives you a better view rearward than the Fiesta’s letterbox-like window. Its small front and rear overhangs help make parking relatively stress-free but, annoyingly, a rear-view camera is only standard on the very highest spec.
Euro NCAP has awarded the SEAT Ibiza an impressive five-star safety rating thanks to its strong occupant protection- and standard automatic emergency city braking.
The Ibiza’s cabin is a lot less bland-looking in 2021, with some splashes of colour to liven it up and better technology.
SEAT Ibiza colours