It is hard to comment on the latest version of the Seat Ibiza range in just one review, because it offers you the choice not just of hatchbacks but of a small estate car too, which the Spanish marque calls a ‘Sports Tourer’ or ST for short. There are also some surprising specifications on offer.
Whatever the model you choose, the latest Ibiza keeps the airy, jolly feel that became so loved by owners of the earlier models.
When it comes to the car’s quality though it gives off mixed signals – like a potential date who’s not sure how ‘into you’ they really are. On the one hand, the buttons and controls have an understated quality and soft-touch feel that is often associated with Mercedes. On the other hand, all the equipment feels like the designers were trying to ‘ham up’ the basic feel.
I suspect that the typical Ibiza will have a light and soft suspension that makes it a pleasure around town, in keeping with the jolly, airy cabin. But our test car was in FR trim which meant it had sports suspension; if a wheel so much as looks at a pot hole or speed bump, the thud is felt right through the car and everything that once felt so well made takes on a brittle quality. This made me worry about future garage bills.
The FR spec also comes with a 1.4 TSI engine and automatic gearbox. This equates to wheel spin everywhere– even with the electronic stability control and electronic differential lock which are both standard. I wasn’t particularly in a rush or heavy with my right foot. It’s just the lousy VW group DSG automatic gearbox, combined with the big engine and light car, means that a slight camber, un-even road surface, or a bit of pressure from heavy commuter traffic results in wheel spin.
Another thing that isn’t totally representative of the range is the standard equipment on the test car. In FR specification this included sports suspension, twin exhaust pipes, air conditioning with pollen filter, MP3 compatible sound system, tinted windows and cruise control, and more besides. All of which felt at odds with the ‘basic’ design.
In a more basic spec I am sure the Ibiza will make more sense. But in FR estate specification it felt like an odd car, which is, as I might have mentioned, hard to comment on.
What’s the market like?
It’s no easier comment on whether it is good value. The Seat Ibiza we tested in FR spec had a RRP of £17,255. But a similar model can be found on Used Car Expert with just 5 miles on the clock for £12,695. A pretty handy saving for nearly new buyers of £5,000 but a pretty unpalatable 28% depreciation for new buyers. Fortunately the rest of the range isn’t that bad.
The average price of a one year old Seat Ibiza is £10,238, at two years old that same car has dropped to £8,632 and by three years old we are in the bargain territory of £7,296.
A Vauxhall Astra where at one year old is a pretty chunky £2,700 more, but at two years old it is just £100 more than an Ibiza of the same age. After three years, the Astra is £400 cheaper!
So if you want a cheap new or nearly new car, then the Seat is an option. And with depreciation lower than that of mainstream rivals such as the Vauxhall it is a sensible option.
But, if you are buying a car older than 18 months, you have to wonder if the Seat is the best quality for your budget.
A simple, relatively well made car, that holds its value well. Ideal as a new or nearly new purchase.