SEAT's improved MK5 model Ibiza supermini features a range of strong engines, including an efficient 1.0 TSI three-cylinder unit. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
Ten Second Review
SEAT's Ibiza, now in its fifth generation, has been a budget alternative to the Volkswagen Polo for over 20 years. It's now smarter, better equipped and more sophisticated, especially in frugal 1.0 TSI petrol guise.
SEAT's Ibiza has always been quite an endearing little supermini, provided you could stretch to the more sophisticated engines fitted to plusher, more powerful models. If budget or circumstance restricted you to an entry-level variant, things were very different. The cheapest versions of this model have often been saddled with the lowest-tech engineering offerings that the Volkswagen Group had to offer.
But not now. In more recent times, Ibiza buyers have had access to one of the most sophisticated engines the Volkswagen empire makes, a three cylinder 1.0 TSI petrol unit. It's an engine also used in Volkswagen's Polo, Skoda's Fabia and Audi's A1 and offers the kind of performance you'd expect from a much bigger powerplant.
The 1.0-litre TSI petrol engine is perfectly suited to the Ibiza. Its power begins to come in low down in the rev range and it pulls the hatchback strongly for such a compact unit. The three-cylinder engine produces either 95PS and 160Nm of torque. Or 110PS and 200Nm in the higher powered sportier FR model which can be ordered with optional DSG automatic transmission. For such a reasonably priced car, these figures are impressive. On the road, the numbers translate into very easy progress. The torque is provided at a lowly 1500rpm, meaning even at very low revs, the Ibiza 1.0 TSI pulls well. It doesn't have much of a top end though, so to maintain swift progress, it's better to change gear early and ride the swell of torque. In the 95PS version, 62mph from rest takes 10.4s en route to 119mph.
On the move in this Ibiza, SEAT hopes one of the first things you'll notice is this model's 'big car' feel, something particularly evident in its rigid, rattle-free roadgoing demeanour. In part, this comes courtesy of the stiff MQB A0 chassis. That in turn means flat cornering and benefits ride quality that's un-bettered in this class. We're slightly less sure about SEAT's decision to extend that same 'big car' feel to the steering which, as a consequence, is a tough lighter than some really enthusiastic drivers might like.
Design and Build
There aren't many exterior changes to this revised version of the MK5 model, but you might spot the now-standard full-LED headlights and the revised alloy wheel designs.It's still a five-door-only design with short front and rear overhangs and at the front of the car, triangular full-LED headlights dominate. Under the skin, as before, the car is based on the Volkswagen Group's MQB A0 platform, shared with the VW Polo.
Inside, the update changes are a little easier to spot, with a new floating central infotainment system with bigger screen sizes - either 8.25 or 9.2-inches, depending on spec. Top variants now get a 10.25-inch Digital Cockpit instrument binnacle screen too. With all the monitors, there's now a built-in e-SIM and SEAT's 'Hola Hola' voice control system. And of course the brand's usual 'Full Link; smartphone-mirroring set-up, which accommodates 'Apple CarPlay' and 'Android Auto'. Other update changes include a softer-touch dashboard, as well as a more ergonomic multifunction Nappa leather steering wheel. The driver and passenger air vents have been redesigned and the surrounds now illuminate. Otherwise, things are much as before. That MQB A0 platform allows for a longer-than-average wheelbase, which translates into decent rear seat space and a decently-sized 355-litre boot.
Market and Model
The 1.0 TSI petrol engine we're looking at here comes with a choice of 'SE', 'SE Technology', 'FR', 'FR Sport', 'XCELLENCE' or 'XCELLENCE Lux' trim. Prices start at just under £17,500, which means a price premium of just under £500 over the older-tech 80PS 1.0 MPI unit; we'd say that was well worth paying. All variants offer this unit in 95PS form, but you have to avoid the base 'SE' variants if you're to get the option of the pokier 110PS version of this powerplant. If you go for that uprated unit, you'll also be offered the option of DSG auto transmission.
As for equipment, well the full-LED headlights are a highlight. Plus most models get 'Apple CarPlay' and 'Android Auto'/'MirrorLink' 'phone connectivity, plus buyers can specify a premium 8-inch touchscreen and a wireless charger with a GSM amplifier. In addition, there's the chance to add in a thumping 300-watt 'Beats' Audio system with 7 speakers and an 8-channel amplifier. Other features buyers might want include keyless entry with a 'heartbeat' engine start button, front and rear parking sensors and a higher quality rear view camera. 'FR' and 'XCELLENCE' variants get colour-personalisable LED interior lighting too. Safety-wise, there's 'Front Assist' autonomous braking, Adaptive Cruise Control and a 'Traffic Jam Assist' feature that can take over the driving from you at very low traffic jam speed.
Cost of Ownership
Being able to dip into the Volkswagen Group parts bin for the niftiest tech usually means a very low overall cost of ownership and that's certainly the case here. The base 1.0 MPI variant manages up to 53.3mpg on the combined WLTP cycle and 121g/km of WLTP-rated CO2. The 1.0-litre TSI 95PS petrol models are capable of up to 54.3mpg and a CO2 figure of as little as 117g/km - so who needs a diesel? The 1.0 TSI 110PS auto petrol model manages up to 47.9mpg and up to 133g/km. A start/stop system, which switches off the engine when the vehicle is at a standstill, is on all models.
What else? Well there's SEAT's usual three year/60,000 mile warranty. That's unexceptional when rivals like Toyota and Hyundai offer five years of cover as standard and Kia offers up to seven years. However, the SEAT deal is extendable, so you might be able to negotiate on that. And it includes two years of Europe-wide roadside assistance.
If you're looking for a budget-priced supermini and can overlook the slight price premium that comes with this 1.0 TSI engine, the Ibiza offers a level of quality, equipment and economy that rivals struggle to match for the money. Incorporating this three-cylinder powerplant in the range provides multiple benefits. Its economy and emissions are significantly better than the 80PS 1.0-litre 12V MPI unit it effectively replaces and performance is stronger thanks to the turbocharger providing good low-down torque. This means even the lower-powered 95PS model is blessed with reasonable performance.
Overall, the relatively affordable price and brilliant engine make the Ibiza a tough car to beat in this segment. Running costs are kept to a minimum without sacrificing performance and the improved cabin, extra equipment and various other changes keep it looking and feeling sharp.