Seat Ibiza SE 1.0 TSI 95hp 5-speed manual review
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There is no doubting that superminis have become the king of new car sales. The best ones are cheap to buy and run, and are stylish and fun to drive - basically the whole package.
In just the past couple of months, we've seen some contenders for the throne - the Ford Fiesta and Citroen C3 have been refreshed, and other long-standing models such as the Mazda 2 and Renault Clio have also been given a spruce up.
Although slightly overshadowed by the Fiesta in the UK, this Spanish Seat supermini is proving itself as a popular alternative for those looking for something a little different. We have already driven the more powerful refreshed model in its home city of Barcelona, but we thought we'd test out the 95hp petrol engine on UK roads to see how it fares compared with its fierce competition.
Although they may be small cars, practicality has become a big part of the supermini segment. The Ibiza is now available solely as a five-door, the first car to be built on the Volkswagen Group's new small-car platform and is far more spacious as a result.
Whichever trim you go for, you get the same practical cabin and roomy boot - the model has seen an 87mm increase in width and a 95mm extended wheelbase. This means that interior roominess is much improved, especially for those in the rear who have noticeably more head and legroom.
The boot is bigger too, up from 292 litres to a near class-leading 355 litres. That's 55 litres bigger than the Citroen C3 and 75 litres up on the Mazda 2. It even beats the class favourite Fiesta, which has a boot space of 292 litres.
The Ibiza is available in five trims, which include S, SE, SE Technology, FR and Xcellence. The SE we're driving comes in the middle of the line-up, so its interior is not the most exciting, which is to be expected. Saying that, the interior in the top-of-the-range FR isn't that exciting either, but both are logically laid out and easy to navigate.
The quality of the interior isn't bad, although there are some hard, scratchy plastics on the dash and doors. The satnav is a £660 option, which we had in our car, but another option is the £150 Full Link system, which allows seamless smartphone connectivity as well as access to maps via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. We would recommend spending the extra money for a proper satnav, though.
Every Ibiza in the new range comes well kitted with a multifunction steering wheel, a 5.0in touchscreen and a multifunction steering wheel as standard. However, we think SE is the lowest spec we'd recommend as it offers a colour display and air-con, as well as a leather steering wheel.
For just over £3,000 more, the FR trim includes lots of additional kit such as Apple CarPlay, satnav and 17in alloys, which we think is worth the premium.
What about the engine? Downsized turbos are becoming more commonplace in the supermini market these days and, luckily, this one offered by Seat is a great competitor.
The 95hp actually has the same fuel economy as the 115hp that we tested previously but there is a 2g/km penalty on CO2 for the former. You do lose a second on the 0-60mph front though, meaning it is a bit sluggish and overtaking requires planning. Once it reaches a constant speed, however, the engine cruises with no problems.
Luckily, the Ibiza's five-speed gearbox is accurate and slick, which makes changing through the gears easy when driving through town. Steering is also well weighted, making for a precise feel.
The range comes with a choice of five-speed manual transmission on 74 and 93bhp versions, and a six-speed on the 113bhp version.
Prices for the new Ibiza start at £13,130 but our model costs £14,400 in P11D, about right for all of the competitors, which are all very close in price - the Fiesta comes out just a bit more expensive at £14,670.
Regarding whole-life costs, though, the Ibiza is not at the top end when compared with its rivals - the 95hp here posts a 26.7% residual value compared with the 31% achieved by the higher-powered petrol in the range.
The Mazda 2 rival to this engine reaches a more impressive 33.9% and the Fiesta also scores 31.5%. Looking at its running costs, the Ibiza is also on the expensive side at 38.4p a mile compared with the Fiesta's 35.7p.
While its costs overall aren't at the top of the supermini segment, the Ibiza is more likely to appeal to those looking for something different. Should rivals such as the Fiesta - the UK's bestselling car - be worried? We think so. What we would say, however, is that we would recommend spending a little more money for a higher trim as the SE doesn't quite cut it among the competition.