You can’t get a cheaper or less powerful new Ibiza – but do you need anything more?
Who remembers when we were all being told to ‘go diesel’ for our next small hatchback? You don’t need to be Memory Man as it wasn’t that long ago.
The thinking on that has changed somewhat. Politics, dodgy dealings and no letup in the push to reduce emissions have together brought about a refocusing of attention on small turbocharged petrol engines.
Given what’s been going on, it seems only right that the Volkswagen Group has been up at the sharp end of this turbo petrol development phase. The excellent fruits of their engineering labours have appeared in a load of cars, from the Seat Ateca to the VW Up.
Interestingly, some decent normally-aspirated small petrols have been riding quietly in on the coat-tails of this turbocharged revolution. You’ll find one of them under the bonnet of this 1.0 75 Seat Ibiza.
The obvious benefits of lower power are lower insurance, lower maintenance costs and a lower Ibiza entry price. The question is whether 74bhp and 70lb/ft of torque make sense in today’s frenetic world.
It’s a fact that the Ibiza starts to feel lethargic beyond the first two gears, not just on A-roads and motorways but even in town. The 14.7-seconds 0-62mph performance can make the sweat break out on the neck of any nervous driver conscious of the traffic behind.
More assured drivers will enjoy the Ibiza’s snappy five-speed gearbox, its willing three-cylinder rumble and its excellent refinement under duress – a useful attribute given the strong likelihood of the mechanicals being worked pretty hard in everyday use. We reckon it’s the group’s most successful application of this drivetrain, also available in the Skoda Fabia and the Up.
The chassis it now sits in is another triumph. The new Fiesta might just have a handling edge over the new Ibiza, but in isolation it’s impossible not to be impressed by the Seat’s sweet steering and confident balance. The FR models are a bit ‘pointier’ this this SE, but the trade-off for the cheaper car is its softer and more pliant ride, irrespective of road quality.
With the 1.0 MPI 75 engine you can specify either entry-level S trim or the SE. Equipment in either is generous. Even the S has a multi-function steering wheel, Bluetooth and a five-inch touchscreen, but the SE upgrade is worth doing as it brings a colour display, air-con and a leathery steering wheel.
Our test vehicle had the optional 8.0in infotainment system, which is something of an object lesson in user-friendliness. It looks crisp and responds quickly. The £365 Beats sound system is excellent too, but we’ll withhold judgement on its value until we’ve sampled the regular Ibiza setup.
No Ibiza has many soft-touch materials, but there’s nothing wrong with the way the materials you get are put together, and the cabin design is much nicer (in our opinion) than either the Fabia or the Fiesta.
Looked at in the round, the Ibiza stands out in the super-competitive small hatchback class. It handles well, looks good and doesn’t cost the earth. Our experience in town and country driving suggests that you’d be well advised to give the 1.0 MPI 75 engine a miss, though: the turbocharged 1.0 TSI 95 is not only more powerful, it’s actually more efficient, with lower CO2 emissions and higher mpg.
At SE level, the argument in favour of the turbo 95 is even more clear-cut as it’s only £595 more expensive than the 75, or less than £20 a month more on a £2,000 deposit/three-year PCP deal.