The SEAT Ibiza may be one of the most affordable cars across the entire Volkswagen-Audi Group portfolio, but do not be fooled into thinking that it is anything but a fantastic car.
And you may be surprised at that revelation, especially considering that us auto journos have access to some of the coolest, fastest and most expensive cars on a regular basis. But none of those cars pack the charm and character that the Ibiza has in spades.I haven’t completely lost the plot - let me explain.
Cheap And Cheerful
I genuinely like the way the Ibiza looks. Granted, it may have been designed almost half a decade ago, and with the old SEAT design language, but the car still looks fresh and fighting fit, even alongside the newer (and larger) offerings from the Spanish brand.
On the outside, being the newer Ibiza means the car comes with DRLs and smarter-looking light clusters in the rear. These complement the sharp and creased bodywork of the car, and when paired with some really funky alloy wheels, makes for a thoroughly sporty aesthetic inside and out.Our test car was the top-of-the-line Formula Racing (FR) variant, which adds colour-contrast stripes and stitching in the cabin. What’s really refreshing about the Ibiza is that it doesn’t try too hard to mask its humble origins. Yes, hard plastics are used liberally in the cabin, and the seats in this SEAT are fabric. But what’s wrong with that?But humble doesn’t mean barebones. The Ibiza has a fully digital instrument cluster that looks not too dissimilar to something you might find fitted to a more upmarket VAG product. Infotainment is taken care of by an 8” touch screen, which actually looks so good, you’d probably not bat an eyelid if VAG decided to fit this to a more premium offering. I'm sensing a bit of a trend here.
It doesn’t stop there. The car also comes with adaptive cruise control, wireless smartphone mirroring and wireless charging - features typically unheard of in its price bracket.And despite its svelte super-mini form factor, the car has decent head, knee and legroom for any average Singaporean adult in any seat.
Gone is the 1.0 litre engine that the early Ibiza cars were fitted with. You’ll find a 1.5 litre four pot, that also sees duty in the Audi A3, under the bonnet. This powerplant is good for 148bhp in this guise, which may sound paltry in a world where we seemingly prioritise peak horsepower figures, but it is plenty in a car as compact and light as this.It is that lightness that makes this car feel alive through a sequence of bends. The chassis is very competent, allowing you to really egg the car on, carrying significantly more momentum than you’d expect to be able to. The steering does feel a touch over-assisted, which means the finer details on the road are not properly transmitted to your hands, but what this makes for is a car that is easy to manoeuvre around town.Even at higher rates of speed, the car still inspires confidence, punching way above its weight class in the way it conducts itself.
All The Buzz And Business
The SEAT Ibiza isn’t a quick car by any stretch of the imagination. But it does everything else surprisingly well. It has space for four adults, torque in the rev range where you’d need it, responsive steering, and a front end that is always eager to turn and suspension that is compliant yet competent.Which is why I’m not hesitating when calling it a CUPRA-lite experience. It has all the characteristics that we’ve come to know and love about the hotted-up SEATs, barring the mind-bending off-the-line pace. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as you combine all the driving traits of a proper hot hatch, with the frugality of an economy car.
The Ibiza then, is seemingly a pill to most of motoring’s woes. It is fun to drive, efficient and practical, and the barebones nature means it should be reliable long-term. Realistically, what more can you ask from a car in its price bracket?
S$139,888 (inclusive of COE)VES Banding: A2
Engine: 1.5 litre Inline 4-cylinder engine
Power: 148 bhp
Torque: 250 Nm from 1,500 rpm - 3,500 rpm
Fuel Consumption: 20 km/l
0-100km/h: 8.2 Seconds
Top Speed: 216 km/h
Drivetrain: 7 DSG; Front-Wheel DriveBrakes: Disc (Front & Rear)
Wheelbase: 2,548 mm
Dimensions (LxWxH): 4,059 mm x 1,780 mm x 1,444 mm
Fuel Tank Capacity: 40 litresBoot Capacity: 355 litres
Electric front seats
LED Headlights & Taillights
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (Wired)
Photo Credit: ACube Creative (@weareacube)
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