This is proving to be a big year for the supermini sector. Already in 2017 we have seen the arrival of the all-new Nissan Micra, Kia Rio and Suzuki Swift, while a refreshed Toyota Yaris has also gone on sale. This summer will also see the launch of the new Ford Fiesta – the sector’s biggest hitter.
For now, however, the newest model in the market is the fifth-generation Seat Ibiza. Currently available to order, first deliveries will take place at the end of July.
First impressions are good. The Ibiza, already one of the most angular and striking superminis on the road, looks sharper with more sculpted and accentuated surfaces.
Available only as a five-door, it is the first model to be based on the Volkswagen Group’s MQB A0 small car platform, which means the Ibiza is 87mm wider than its predecessor, giving the new model a squat, sporty appearance.
It is also fractionally shorter and lower than the outgoing model, but its wheelbase has grown by 95mm, which means the supermini is more practical than before.
Rear legroom has grown 35mm, while an accompanying increase in headroom (an extra 24mm in the front and 17mm in the rear), makes it much more spacious for passengers.
Boot space has also increased: at 355 litres it is 65 litres larger than before, giving it the most capacity in the sector – just. The Honda Jazz at 354 litres, runs it close.
The Ibiza offers three petrol engines: a 1.0 MPI producing 75PS and a 1.0 TSI unit in 95PS and 115PS guises.
A 1.6 TDI diesel engine in 80PS and 95PS variants will become available later in the year, while a 150PS 1.5 TSI petrol unit will also be launched.
Until the arrival of the diesels, the most efficient unit in the range is the 95PS 1.0 TSI, which Seat says will also be the most popular.
This produces 106g/km of CO2 and has an official combined fuel economy of 60.1mpg. The 115PS 1.0 TSI matches its economy but has slightly higher CO2 emissions of 108g/km.
Five trim levels are available: S, SE, SE Technology, FR and Xcellence. As standard, the entry-level S includes a five-inch mono touchscreen, Bluetooth audio streaming and hands-free system, air conditioning and automatic headlights.
SE adds 15-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights with cornering function, LED daytime running lights and LED taillights, a five-inch colour touchscreen, and 60/40 split folding rear seats.
SE Technology is expected to be the most popular equipment grade and adds an eight-inch colour touchscreen and navigation system.
FR, the sporty trim level in the range, adds 17-inch alloy wheels, sports suspension, digital radio, sports seats and rain-sensing wipers.
Xcellence is also based on the SE Technology trim level and additions include 16-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, digital radio, four driving modes, black Alacantara and similar leather upholstery, dual zone climate control, parking sensors, rear view camera and cruise control.
P11D prices range from £13,130 for the 1.0 MPI S to £17,310 for the 1.0 TSI 95 Xcellence.
At the Ibiza launch, we were able to drive the 1.0 TSI 115PS FR and the positive impression gained from its exterior styling was largely carried through to its interior.
This increased cabin space helps the Ibiza feel large and airy, with comfortable seats (42mm wider than before) and plenty of storage space.
The dashboard design is simple and subdued, with plenty of sharp angles, and it feels well put together.
However, the perceived quality is reduced by some of the materials used: the hard plastic on the top of the dashboard, centre console and door handles means it trails the class best in this area.
This is a shame, as otherwise the interior layout and space give the car a more refined feel, which continues when the car is on the road.
The Ibiza’s suspension does a good job of smoothing out road undulations, while the steering is light and direct, giving the car an agile feel which makes it enjoyable to drive.
Noise levels are kept firmly under control, while the three-cylinder engine revs smoothly and delivers plenty of punch.
Verdict: The new Ibiza is a significant improvement over its predecessor, and can be considered as one of the best cars in its class.
Specification shown for Seat Ibiza 1.0 TSI 95 SE Technology.