Sunday 17 December 2017

Ibiza is a little ray of sunshine

SEAT ups the ante with a grown-up city car, writes Philip Hedderman

Rugged: The new SEAT Ibiza has shed the cutesy image
Rugged: The new SEAT Ibiza has shed the cutesy image

Philip Hedderman

It may be have been miserable and damp all last week but SEAT is planning a sizzling summer with the launch of its funky new Ibiza.

Hot on the heels of the Ateca - which has been an astounding success for the Spanish car giant - comes the fifth generation of its nippy little city car.

Launched in 1984, the Ibiza is not only the oldest model in the fleet, it's also the best selling - shifting 5.4 million units globally with more than 30,000 finding homes here.

The new model, which takes sartorial cues from its big brother Leon (complete with signature LED headlamps), has really grown up - shedding its cutesy image for a more rugged and aggressive look.

First in the VW group to use the new MQB A0 platform, the new car is shorter (2mm) than the outgoing model, but the wheelbase has been stretched by 60mm. It's also lower (1mm) and wider (87mm), giving it greater presence on the road.

The extra dimensions are also felt inside. Legroom in the rear seats has increased by 35mm, while the headroom has gone up by 24mm (front) and 17mm in the back. Even the seats are wider (an extra 42mm), making it far more comfy. The boot has also been enlarged, by 63 litres, bringing its total capacity to a best-in-class 355 litres.

Inside, the new Ibiza is as stunning as the outside, and the top-of-the-range models come with a state-of-the-art eight-inch i-Pad-like touchscreen which dominates the now de-cluttered cockpit.

This is home to Apple Car Play, Android Auto and Mirror Link connecting your phone to the car (wireless charging is offered as an optional extra).

It's also loaded with executive saloon features including adaptive cruise control, keyless entry with dash-mounted engine start button, front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera.

It will be offered in the familiar four trims - S, SE FR and XCELLENCE - and only as a five-door. The ST (estate version) has been consigned to history.

There are four petrol engines to choose from, the first a 1.0 MPI with 75bhp, a 3-cylinder 1.0 TSI with 95 or 115bhp.

A meatier 1.5 TSI will also be available with four cylinders and 150bhp. The 1.6 TDI diesel engines will come later in the year with 80, 95 and 115bhp, while you can also opt for five or six-speed manual or a seven-speed DSG gearbox.

Drive-wise, it's remarkably refined and perfectly suited to nipping around city streets. The turbo-charged three pot is the same one that's going down a storm in the face-lifted Golf and the lighter body really gives it more oomph.

Unless you are doing serious mileage - 20,000 kms a year - I'd steer clear of the diesels altogether.

Related: Use our calculator to estimate your car loan repayments

To celebrate the launch, SEAT has announced a special 3-2-1 offer with three years' free servicing, 2pc PCP finance, and one year's free road tax which is available until July 31.

Prices for the new SEAT Ibiza start at €14,995.

Sunday Independent

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