Long-term Review

Living with a... Seat Ibiza

Pete Tullin is spending six months with Seat’s highly regarded supermini to see how well it copes with his life on the road.

Words by: First published: 19th December 2017
Month one: First impressions
Mileage so far: 2873
Costs: £0
I know you’ll find this hard to believe, but despite my boyish good looks, I’ve got quite a few miles on the clock. If I were a diesel, I’d probably be a prime candidate for the latest scrappage scheme.

Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to run a lot of long-term test cars. I've covered little city cars, big brash-looking SUVs, and most things in between.

So when the steering committee at Auto Trader suggested I take charge of Seat’s latest Ibiza supermini, in many ways, it felt like I was starting all over again.

I haven't got anything against small cars though. Any manufacturer that can build a great supermini out of basic ingredients instantly gets my stamp of approval, and the Ibiza is definitely one such car.

For starters, with just a couple of embellishments – metallic paint, Alcantara (faux suede) upholstery and 18-inch alloy wheels – it looks far more expensive than it is. As well as feeling exceptionally well made, it drives with a maturity that instantly makes it feel like a car that is from quite a few classes above.

However, it’s not got the most creature comforts. There are no fancy heated or cooled seats, panoramic sunroof, 360-degree cameras, park assist, or even powered rear windows. There’s also no reversing sensor, so I really need to remember how to park. I know, these are first world problems…

My Ibiza is fitted with a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine, but I will be amazed if it can achieve the 60.1mpg Seat reckons is possible. The three-cylinder engine does help with weight reduction too, and less weight up front should make the car more agile. Early impressions suggest the Ibiza is nippy enough through twisty corners. And when you rev the engine, it’ll zip along at a decent rate. It helps that the engine is boosted by a turbocharger.

Although there’s a decent low-end pull, I can’t resist revving the engine quite hard, and when I do, it is quite noisy. However, the engine is really smooth.

The same can’t be said for ride quality. With the sports suspension and 18-inch wheels, the ride is on the firm side. I’ll be interested to see over time if this bothers me more, or if I simply learn to live with it.
Month two: A run in with the law
Mileage: 4613
Costs: £0
You hear about it, you read about it, it’s even on the telly from time-to-time, but you never really expect it to happen to you. I’m talking about car cloning.

Although it’s supposed to be impossible to purchase a set of number plates without having the appropriate documentation, cloning is still happening. I know this only too well because it has happened to me.

I have no idea how it’s happened, but what I do know is that KR17 NLN was recently captured on camera absconding from a petrol station near Stoke-on-Trent with a full tank of unleaded that hadn’t been paid for.

Fortunately for me, our car is registered to Seat UK, so I escaped a late-night knock from the boys-in-blue. Instead, a polite lady from Seat phoned me to tell me she had spoken to the Police and had smoothed things over. However, the bad news is, until the perpetrators are reprimanded, my car will remain on the Police central computer as a vehicle of ill-repute, albeit one with a note against it saying, ‘possible cloning incident’.

Sure enough, two days later I found myself boxed in by a patrol car and confronted by two of the Met’s finest. To be honest, they couldn’t have been more courteous and once they’d checked the vehicle identity plate behind the Ibiza’s windscreen married up with its number plates, they wished me God-speed, although not before telling me there was every chance I’d be bumping into some of their colleagues in the not too distant future.

On the bright side, if this continues, maybe I’ll get an invite to the Met’s Christmas party.
Month three: A few issues with the Ibiza
Mileage: 5478
Costs: £0
The Ibiza is going strong and I’m really enjoy the way its polished driving manners make light work of every journey, even if there are a couple of things that aren’t entirely to my liking.

My first niggle is around the fuel consumption. If the bad lads who cloned my plate are reading this, I can tell them, they won’t get too far on the petrol they nicked, as the Ibiza is currently only returning around 43.7mpg. That’s well short of the 60mpg Seat reckons it’s capable of.

Next up, the air conditioning. Towards the end of the summer I’d noticed it was struggling to cool the cabin sufficiently. And it’s not just on short runs. Even when doing a few hours on the motorway, with the dial jammed in the blue zone, the Ibiza’s cabin never got cool enough for my liking.

On top of this, the ventilation system is too readily invaded by the smell of exhaust fumes when I’m trundling along in heavy traffic, so I find myself using the re-circulating function far more than I have with any previous car I’ve owned.

The hand brake is pretty weak too. When I pull it with all my might – granted that’s not that much – it won’t bite sufficiently to hold the car when parked on a hill. It probably just needs adjusting, so I’ll continue to leave the car in gear as a safeguard until I find time to book it in to my local Seat dealer, to sort it and the air-con’s deficiencies. I’ll also get them to have a look at the power steering, as it has started to make quite a pronounced grumble when I apply full lock, which is quite a lot of the time when you live in north London.

One irritation that can’t be fixed is the lack of boot space. Yes, you can fit a set of golf clubs in, but only if you own a lightweight carry bag. Even then, I have to drop one of the rear seats and squeeze my bag in diagonally before folding the rear seat back up again. While it’s a bit annoying, I can keep my precious irons out of sight from the type of person who spends their days dreaming up ways of not paying for petrol!
  • Model: Seat Ibiza 1.0 TSI 95 FR
  • List price: £16,015
  • Price as tested: £18,240
  • Engine/gearbox: 1.0-litre 3-cylinder turbo, five-speed manual
  • Power: 95PS
  • Torque: 175NM
  • Top speed: 113mph
  • 0-62mph: 10.9 seconds
  • Economy: 60.1mpg
  • CO2/BIK tax liability: 106g/km / 20%
  • Boot space: 355 litres
A list of everything extra fitted to our cars, and the cost:

Metallic paint: £530
18-inch Performance alloy wheels: £325
Beats sound system: £365
LED headlights: £480
Connectivity hub: £160

Interested in buying a SEAT Ibiza?

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