Well, this should be interesting. SEAT has been to collect the Arona and left a platform-sharing Ibiza in its place. Gone is the crossover, replaced by what is arguably a less fashionable supermini. I say ëless fashionableí, but the reaction from certain sections of the village has been highly positive, but more on this in a moment.
We might live in a crossover and SUV-obsessed world, but the Ibiza remains at the heart of SEATís range. Since being unveiled as a Giugiaro-designed hatchback at the 1984 Paris Motor Show, some 5.5 million Ibizas have found a home, and this is the latest, fifth-generation model. It uses the same MQB A0 platform as the current Volkswagen Polo. It is, to my eyes, one of the best-looking cars in the segment, with a touch more flair than the Ford Fiesta and more personality and finesse than the Polo. Sure, it looks a lot like the SEAT Leon, but inheriting the chiselled and toned face of a larger sibling isnít necessarily a bad thing.
Besides, the Ibiza has caught the eye of the local teenagers and millennials. In ësportyí FR trim, the Ibiza majors on kerb appeal, with 17-inch alloy wheels, twin exhausts, a redesigned rear bumper, tinted rear windows and sports suspension. ëMyí test car also features full LED headlights (a £490 option). On the inside, the Ibiza FR features a pair of sports front seats, a flat-bottomed steering wheel and a host of younger market-focussed gadgets and tech. SEAT has added two further options in the form of adaptive cruise control and dual-zone climate control. As one villager remarked, the SEAT Ibiza ìlooks sickî. I understand this is a positive thing.
Power is sourced from a 1.6-litre turbodiesel engine developing 94bhp. Performance is more ëwarmí than ëhotí hatch, with a 0-62mph time of 11.3 seconds and a top speed of 113mph. The fuel economy figures are more impressive: average economy of 74.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 99g/km, though thereís a been a recent rise in the latter figures on account of Euro-6d-Temp emissions compliance ñ new Ibiza FRs emit 100g/km now. Given recent experiences ñ including my time with the SEAT Arona ñ Iím not expecting much more than mid-50s, especially when Iím lured into an impromptu traffic light Grand Prix by a millennial in a Corsa or Fiesta. Truth is, Iím probably too old to rock the Ibiza FR look, but Iím happy to dust off my baseball cap and become reacquainted with the local McDonaldís car park.
Not that Iíll be taking a full quota of five people to the drive-thru for a McFlurry. The Ibiza arrived with a letter from SEAT regarding the ë69W1í recall campaign concerning the belt buckle, as outlined during the long-term test of the Arona. A warning sticker has been applied to the dashboard, informing occupants that the rear middle seat position must not be occupied. It means that for the foreseeable future, the SEAT Ibiza is a four-seat supermini. A temporary inconvenience or a long-term problem? Time will tell.
First impressions are good. Itís the best-looking SEAT Ibiza since the Mk1, and I like the opportunity to switch driving modes via the SEAT Drive Profile. There are four modes ñ Normal, Sport, Eco and Individual ñ and so far Iíve found myself in Sport mode on back roads and Eco when travelling long distances. Sport mode adds a touch more weight to the steering and a little more response to the accelerator pedal, encouraging you to press on when the conditions allow. Already, it feels like a car youíd drive just for the fun of it all, which is a huge positive for what is essentially little more than a sportier trim level.
Inside, the Ibiza feels rather familiar after the Arona, but the cabin is lifted by a set of good looking and comfortable FR seats, red stitching, piano black dashboard panels, an FR leather steering wheel and ambient lighting in the footwells and doors. Iím rather looking forward to a few months reliving my misspent youth. Anyone fancy a Big Mac and fries?
Arrived (registered) | 28th August 2018 (3rd April 2018)
Economy (urban/extra urban/combined) | 64.2/80.7/74.3mpg
Economy (on test) | 53.1mpg
The sporty FR trim level is arguably the best-looking Ibiza in the range.
The belt buckle safety issue means that the middle rear seat cannot be used.