Seat has given its Ibiza a midlife facelift, and the results — which is on sale this month — are genuinely impressive: and, cleverly, Seat hasn’t upped the prices of the new car.
So, what does the facelifted car get? How about reshaped headlights, a smaller and ‘sharper’ front grille and a new trapezoidal lower grille for starters?
And if that’s not enough, then there’s also a new glovebox, which is double the size of that in the previous model: new typography on the instrument dials and, last but not least, a more muscular-looking bonnet.
There’s a clutch of engine options, including the 141bhp 2.0TDI CR, which will set you back £16,340; the 148bhp 1.4TSI, fitted with a DSG gearbox, costing £15,870, and an entry-level 1.2TSI.
This four-cylinder powerplant churns out a respectable 103bhp, and with prices starting at £13,465, it’s probably the most appealing car in the new range.
Ok, it’s not going to blow the opposition away in the 0-62mph ‘sprint’ — it takes relatively leisurely 9.8secs — but that’s to miss the point entirely.
The 1.2TSI, while more than happy cruising the motorway or darting through country A-roads, is at its best mixing it with the opposition in the city. And here it truly sparkles.
Clever use of gearing ratios in the five-speed ‘box means it skips delightfully through the streets whether it’s in second or third gear: most cars tend to struggle slightly when they’re negotiating traffic in such low gears. The result is hassle-free motoring, which is actually very pleasant.
There remains a slight psychological difficulty: we’re all so used now to driving manual gearboxes with six gears, that it’s strange to jump in a new car with only five: hey-ho!
But there are more benefits which outweigh any perceived lacking due to the ‘missing’ gear. Not only is the steering light, precise and well-balanced, the new Ibiza delivers surprisingly sporty levels of grip.
That ability to cling to the road surface comes by dint of the car’s lightweight petrol unit being upfront. That, in turn, allows the chassis to remain perfectly balanced. I promise you: it’ll put a big smile on your face.
Inside the cabin, even at motorway speeds, it’s a quiet, relaxed atmosphere in which to sit: Seat has obviously used quite a bit of sound deadening in the new car. The result is excellent.
It’s also a smart, functional and clean environment in which to sit. The seats are supportive and comfortable; all-round visibility is excellent, and all the main dials are clear and simple to read.
With a comprehensive range of two-door, five-door and estate models, the new Ibiza really does have something for everyone. Add in the fact that it’s a bit of a headturner, economical and nippy to drive, as well as being fun, and you’ll discover Seat has delivered something of a winner.