Launched in May this year, Seat's best selling model range; the new Ibiza supermini is now in its fifth generation. Available with SC (3-door), 5-Door and ST five door estates body styles they all have sharper looks and the majority of derivatives have lower prices than their outgoing equivalents.
Depending on the version, the reductions range from around £300 for core volume selling models up to £1,100 for the higher end sports FR derivatives. More good news, the FR (Formula Racing sub-brand) specification becomes available in the Ibiza ST five door estate range.
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Prices for the Ibiza start at £9,995 for the entry-level 1.2-litre 60PS with E specification in the three door SC bodystyle. Five door versions start at £11,430 and ST estates at £12,140.
From the new Ibiza range the ST five door estate appeals to me because it retains a sporty profile and yet it accommodates with ease all the family clutter, the dog, or the mobility aids of the less mobile.
The ST has a very low rear sill over which to lift items and its square load space provides 430-litres of room with the rear seats in place rising to 1,164-litres with the split rear seats folded down. Towing weights go up to 1,200kg depending on the model.
The ST (Sports Tourer) five door estate has the top FR (Formula Racing) sports level of specification added to its line-up and with this FR level there is the choice of 105 and 150PS petrol and 105PS diesel engine options with these prices ranging from £14,675 to £17,085.
My ST FR test model was the top variant with the 1.4-litre, 150PS petrol unit which is fitted as standard with a seven-speed DSG twin clutch, fast-action automatic transmission.
This turbocharged direct injection petrol unit produces 220Nm (162lb ft) of torque from just 1,550rpm.
So in conjunction with its slick response, seamless auto gearbox it is a very flexible performer giving rapid acceleration through the gears from standstill. But more importantly it provides really useful pick-up response for rapid overtaking speed in the mid-range. The top speed is 132mph and zero to 62mpg takes an impressive 8.0 seconds.
The Official Combined Cycle fuel consumption is 47.9mpg. My test, covering all types of driving at legal speeds, returned only 35.8mpg, too far from the official figure.
However the CO2 emissions of 139g/km means VED road tax is £120 a year and company car drivers, the most likely ST FR users, will pay 18 per cent Benefit-in-Kind tax. Given the high performance of this model the 22E insurance group rating is no deterrent to ownership.
For those 'supermini' estate customers who want pace as well as space, Seat has added the zippy FR variant which can be a docile workhorse or has the easy ability to 'fire-up' and become feisty and fast when mundane driving give way to fun driving.
The new Ibiza maintains the sporty looks associated with the Seat brand and their many years involved in touring car racing. But now the body has an edgier look to it with sharp crease lines for the front wings and a new centre crease line for the bonnet.
There is a new style of headlight with signature daytime running light strips, a squatter wide front grille and a larger wide and angular lower grille. There are new lighting units at the rear and a subtle angular rear bumper.
The estate car load section is neatly integrated into the new bodyshell; it doesn't appear a boxy add-on so from the outside it looks a really attractive 'family wagon'.
Inside the car has a bland interior, lots of dark hard and soft feel textured plastics which look durable rather than inviting. The fascia panel is brightened with the use of new graphics for the instruments and of most use is the much larger glovebox, which following customer feedback, is twice the size of the previous layout.
As with Seat's of the past the ride comfort of all Ibiza models is still on the firm sporty side and the FR version gives an even stiffer account of itself. The FR has sports suspension coupled with 16-inch wheels as standard and that makes the ride very firm.
My test car had the optional 17-inch alloy wheels with low profile tyres and that made ride comfort and road noise intrusion intolerable. I wouldn't buy this model with this level of equipment even though I like the ST estate and the brilliant 150PS engine.
I was also not impressed by the fact that if a customer wants that all important spare wheel, given the damaging state of our roads, it shows up on the extras lists as a £95 added cost item.
In addition to all the usual high level of standard specification such as electrically operated windows and mirrors, air conditioning and good sound system, the FR variant gains sporting touches. Such as FR badging for the front and rear bumpers, twin exhaust tailpipes, flat bottomed sports steering wheel, cruise control, sports front seats, the uncomfortable sports suspension, electronic stability control plus electronic limited slip differential.
The design, styling and practicality-of-use the Ibiza ST estate offers I like. I also love the performance of the 150PS turbo petrol engine but oh dear with the FR sports suspension the two do not mix very well in FR form.
Unfortunately this great engine is only available with FR spec so I would suggest the 1.2-litre TS I 105PS petrol engine mated with the DSG auto gearbox with SE trim is a softer option, slightly slower at 119mph but better on fuel at 55.4mpg and it costs less to buy at £14,815. But there is a wide range of other engine options and specification levels with prices for the Ibiza ST estate starting as low as £12,140 so there is a version to suit most pockets.
Seat Ibiza ST FR 1.4-litre TSI with DSG auto, 5-Door supermini estate
£17,085 (+ £95 spare wheel option).
1.4-litre, four-cylinder, direct injection turbocharged petrol, 150PS (148bhp), 220Nm (162lb ft) of torque from 1,550rpm, 7-speed twin-clutch automatic.
132mph, 0-62mph 8.0 seconds, 47.9mpg (35.8mpg test average), CO2 139g/km, VED road tax £120, Benefit-in-Kind company car tax 18%.
L 4,240mm, W 1,693mm, H 1,442mm, load space 430 to 1,164-litres, braked towing weight 1,200kg.
Stylish and spacious supermini sized estate for family or business use, great sporty engine, slick 7-speed auto gearbox.
This great engine/auto transmission is only available with FR specification, no manual transmission option, overly firm and harsh FR sports suspension gives very poor handling and ride comfort.