A range of new engines and a Leon-inspired interior all help to formulate the facelifted SEAT Ibiza. We’ve put it to the test and this is what we think. Although from the outside it looks like SEAT has been pretty lazy when it comes to the facelift of its Ibiza supermini, the name of the game is the equipment and technology used, an area in which the team excelled.
Four new trim levels have been injected into the range starting with a new entry point, the Ibiza E which is only available on 3-door SC models and keeps the price tag to only £10,000. It’s joined by mid-range VISTA (SC and 5-door) and CONNECT (all body guises). The fourth and final variant is the FR Red Edition for both the SC and 5-door Ibizas.
SEAT claims to have listened to customer feedback, therefore addressing the issue of the tired interior to be more in line with that of its older brother, the Leon. Under-the-hood improvements include 6 new engines (like the 3-cylinder 1.0-litre 95 PS EcoTSI petrol unit) and claimed efficiency improvements of up to 32 per cent.
Minor updates to the exterior include refreshed 16- and 17-inch alloys, three new paint options and LED daytime running lights from SE trim upwards. The hidden changes are a new electric power steering and an enhanced suspension setup.
The new CONNECT trim is SEAT’s excuse to flaunt its new technology-orientated interior. The 6.5-inch touchscreen takes centre stage and is one of the first cars to offer the three industry-leading smartphone integration systems: Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink (however this smartphone integration is a £145 option in all other trims). Should you find yourself in a situation where your mobile phone is not compatible with these, SEAT gives you a Samsung Galaxy A3 smartphone as part of the deal. Differentiating the CONNECT from the other trims is its blue detailing, found in the form of air vent surrounds, a steering wheel insert and model-specific upholstery.
For £155, the SEAT Sound System and its 6 speakers and subwoofer makes for a pleasant upgrade. The bi-xenon headlights are a must though – they enhance the car’s aesthetic appeal and work well with its sharp lines and technologically sophisticated interior for a cost of £425.
If performance is what you’re looking for, you might be considering an FR Red Edition to complement the statistics offered by its engine. Its unique selling points are the FR bodystyling and flat-bottomed steering wheel, the automatic headlights and wipers and sport suspension, although I would avoid activating this as the ride becomes unnecessarily fidgety. Oh, and did I mention, the designers have taken every opportunity to spice it up by squeezing in red trims almost everywhere? Air vent surrounds, alloy wheels, door mirrors, you name it!
The 1.2 TSI found in the FR Red Edition produces 108 bhp and 175 Nm and is adequately sporty. But if it’s true performance you’re looking for, the 148 bhp, 250 Nm 1.4 EcoTSI (reserved solely for the FR) throws the Ibiza to 62 mph in 7.6 seconds. Another highlight from its 6-strong petrol lineup is the 1.0 EcoTSI which produces 108 bhp and 200 Nm. Also reserved for the FR, it’s only available with SEAT’s 7-speed DSG automatic transmission which is ridiculously smooth under normal town driving where changes are virtually undetectable. Push it along a motorway slip road and you will begin to feel it shifting through the gears, although it’s still smoother than what most of us can achieve in a manual.
All diesels are 3-cylinder 1.4-litre units and despite their 74-103 bhp power output figures, they feel sufficiently rapid thanks to their 210-250 Nm torque figures. It’s their running costs that impress though, with 83.1 mpg claimed for the 1.4 TDI Ecomotive (although we averaged around 55 mpg pushing it through twisty back roads on a short 14-mile journey, you can expect to get up to the mid 60s in the real world). You’ll have to get used to the 3-cylinder thrum though, as this is something you’ll be hearing a lot.
The facelifted Ibiza competes against the similarly priced Ford Fiesta and the more expensive Renault Clio and Peugeot 208. Vauxhall’s Corsa is cheaper than the Ibiza both like-for-like and when it comes to its starting price.
Finally, there’s one more thing that we can look forward to. The Ibiza CUPRA will use a new 1.8 TSI engine replacing the current 1.4 in order to produce 189 bhp and 320 Nm. With 0-62 mph dispatched in 6.7 seconds, it’s ahead of the Peugeot 208 GTi and Ford Fiesta ST. The Corsa VXR achieves significantly less than the CUPRA’s 47.1 mpg whereas the Clio RenaultSport, Fiesta ST and 208 GTi all have higher claimed figures. The new Ibiza CUPRA will be in showrooms from the beginning of 2016.