This car is fun and stylish, but also comfortable and practical.
Everything worked perfectly from the go... and still does.
When it came to looking for a new car, I looked at many 3 door "superminis" in the range for a few weeks... test drove some, read countless reviews of others, etc... until I started hearing more and more about the SEAT Ibiza - I very much liked the look of it, so I decided to test drive it. I immediately put the order in for a brand new Ibiza SX 1.4 16v.
My previous car was a '97 VW Polo 1.4 so I know what a well built, quality car is like... many things I've heard and read from owners of this car is that it is poorly built, interior wise - I would have to disagree. It does look a tad sparse, but so do most other small cars in this range, take the Renault Clio for example. Quality wise, though it feels nice and solid, just like a Volkswagen... and when the headlights are on, the dash controls light up red which looks very nice indeed.
Another negative point about this car that I've read by a couple of motor journalists... the 1.2 and 1.4 engines lacking in power. Well the 1.2 5 door Ibiza S I test drove did seem a bit tame, but the same cannot be said for my 1.4. The power is there - you just need to know how to drive the car to it's limits. That is if you don't mind paying more for petrol... I should also mention that the engine seems to have a VERY pleasing sound to it from inside the car when you're in the low gears.
Handling now - this thing is GREAT for handling. Very light when you're trying to park or swerve in and out of lanes at low speeds, but satisfyingly meaty and heavy at speeds over 60mph, which makes overtaking fun in a "Har har, I'm faster!" way. This car just grips the road perfectly. Bends that felt scary in my previous car unless I slowed right down are now a joke to this car. I will warn you though, that those not interested in a "fun" drive may get irate at the stiff suspension causing you to feel pretty much every bump in the road more than some other cars... doesn't bother me, though.
On an aesthetic level, this car definitely turns heads. When I got it, my friends were jealous and I feel proud that I'm not just another 206 or Fiesta driver. Let's not forget the extremely fair share of nifty features that you get as standard with the model I went for (SX) - 15 inch alloy wheels (which really compliment the car's looks), automatic air conditioning (just remember to turn it off if you don't really need it, it burns petrol when on), CD player, very impressive 8 speaker sound system which I believe comes with all Volkswagen models as standard. It also has ABS and of course remote central locking.
The automatic air conditioning system is very impressive. You just set your temperature and it does what it has to... it responds very fast. If your windscreen fogs up, hit the de-mist button and it's gone in seconds.
All this kit at a competitive price (at the price I got it for, I could've gone for a Renault Clio 1.2 with a few more extras) does come with a trade off - some of the various levers and handles etc feel a tad flimsy and plasticy whereas you wouldn't find this drop in quality in, say, a new Polo... but these are just minor complaints. Perhaps a more relevant complaint would be that the leg room for passengers in the back is not exactly plentiful... almost all passengers of varying sizes I've had in the back have commented on it. But who cares about them anyway. Furthermore, if you do nothing, but town\city driving then you will find yourself spending quite a bit on petrol... but then again, what are you doing with a 1.4? You're better suited to 1.2 anyway. My first full tank lasted me about 350 miles and this was varied driving (town, motorway cruising, busy dual carriageways etc etc) considering my sometimes boisterous driving style, I'd say that is pretty good.
Overall, I'd recommend this car to absolutely anyone looking for a small, affordable car. The only way you'd get better overall quality in this range is to go for the more expensive Volkswagen Polo, but then you wouldn't have the enjoyable responsive handling and features like alloy wheels and air conditioning wouldn't be standard, that's for sure.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 3rd October, 2004