The changes have cost SEAT ú160 million in development money, but the result is a strikingly restyled, considerably more refined little car. The new Ibiza is 2cm longer, is quieter, and is 30% more rigid than the outgoing predecessor - the bodyshell improvement contributing to safety gains and better ride and handling characteristics.
Three models are in the first phase of introduction: 1.4-litre 60bhp petrol, 1.9 90bhp TDi diesel (the 1.9-litre 68bhp SDi offered in Europe is not available) and a 100bhp 1.6-litre petrol. The 1.4 and 1.9 come in standard or S trim with three-door and five-door bodies, and the 1.6 is a three-door Sport. By next summer the Ibiza range will have expanded to include beefier petrol and diesel derivatives from the Volkswagen stable: 1.4-litre 16-valve 75bhp, 110bhp TDi and a five-valve-per-cylinder 1.8-litre 156bhp 20V T, the latter in Cupra livery and taking on the title of the most powerful supermini marketed in the UK.
Meanwhile, prices for the first batch start at ú8,495 on-the-road, ú500 below the previous entry model. Our test car, a five-door 1.4 S, costs ú9,395, and includes in its standard specification electric front windows, remote central locking, immobiliser, safety locks with undeformable hinges, driver airbag, power steering, height adjustable steering wheel, and seatbelt pretensioners.