2009 Seat Ibiza Style 1.6 petrol from Croatia


Good as a car, poor to own


Intermittent squeak from the driver's seat from 500 kms.

Whining air conditioning unit from about 10,000 kms. Fixed under warranty, then returned and still present.

Battery went flat due to an electronics fault at 40,000 kms.

Gearbox bearing replaced at 40,000 kms.

Rear parcel shelf catches broke on both sides.

General interior rattles and squeaks.

General Comments:

I chose this car after looking at many others, because it offered the best compromise between comfort, handling, performance and price. It has not disappointed in that respect, i.e. it's lived up to what I expected it to be. What did disappoint is the awful quality, but we'll get to that...

Performance - it's the old VW 1.6, so it's not very lively and sounds gruff, but provides adequate performance if you require a car that can keep up with larger ones on the motorway. It's also torquey, so it's easy to drive. Uses quite a bit of petrol, but I knew that when buying, so I'm not complaining.

Gear change is typical VW - short throw and precise, quite enjoyable to shift and the clutch is light.

Comfort: ride and seats are stock VW, again - firm but compliant. I'm more of a French car person, but this isn't too bad.

Handling: it's not a sports car (despite the brand pretensions) so if you look at it that way, it's good enough. Direct steering, safe and moderately entertaining handling, usual understeer if you push it, little roll.

Interior: cheap plastics, but mine's in a two-tone paint scheme, which really brightens it up and makes it quite a pleasant place to be. The controls are all logical and easy to hand (again, typical VW ergonomics). Nothing to complain about except the radio remote control lacking a mute button, one that you really need on the remote! The radio is overly complicated, but at least it has the USB function, and the USB stick itself is plugged in out of sight. Interior space is very good for this car's class. Then again, at 4.05 metres it's not really a super mini as it's supposed to be, is it?

Quality/reliability: oh dear. Yes, it's from Spain, but it's also a VW product, using VW running gear, and the Spanish input is really limited to the design. And VWs are supposed to be quality cars. Yet this car left me stranded once, had a gearbox failure, and the air con whines endlessly, despite having taken it in. I owned a supposedly unreliable Renault before this (and a few more Renaults before that, actually), and it was miles better with only one small fault in 5 years of ownership. This car has had a fair share of problems in 3 years I've had it. Of course one could say that I was just unlucky, but I actually owned a VW some years back, and it was the most unreliable car I ever had. So, either I'm really unlucky, or the supposed quality is just that - supposed.

The dealer is friendly, but slow and has inconvenient opening hours.

It's a good car to drive, good to look at, but it's let down by poor reliability. I think I'll go back to those "fragile" French cars in the future...

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 9th August, 2012