Seat Ibiza will cost from £15,995
Don’t get us wrong, the Ibiza is a perfectly good supermini in among some very talented rivals and Seat itself is doing very well indeed with sales up last year by a not-inconsiderable 18 per cent.
No, the problem is with what’s under the bonnet.
Historically, sales of diesel superminis have never been especially high, simply due to their combination.
Superminis are likely to do fewer miles than most other classes of cars, hence reducing the ability for most owners to recoup their extra initial cost.
Like most other superminis on the market, that’s reflected in the sales of both the petrol and diesel versions of the Ibiza up until now – with the former accounting for 97 per cent of all Ibizas leaving UK showrooms.
As if that stratospheric figure wasn’t enough, don’t forget this came before the most recent diesel furore, which has seen the fuel vilified despite its huge advances.
Sales of new diesel cars are already down 25 per cent in 2018 and the UK isn’t alone; they’ve halved in Spain and even in normally diesel-loving France they’ve dropped to less than a quarter of new car sales.
All this, of course, despite the fact that this Ibiza’s new engine meets the latest Euro 6 emissions standards, has emissions as low as 99g/km and boasts some of the most advanced engine technology on the market.
Among the deafening noise of the ill-informed and politicians, however, those facts are likely to be lost and diesel car sales show only signs of continuing in one direction.
And bear in mind too, that on this Ibiza, diesels only accounted for a meagre three per cent of sales before.
The new car is a rival to the Citroen C3 and Ford Fiesta
As we have said, why Seat is bothering is a mystery. Having said that, it’s a shame that this Ibiza will be overlooked by many.
We think it’s still one of the best-looking superminis on the market, with its sharp-edged styling, and you certainly wouldn’t mistake it for anything else.
Along with the Nissan Micra, it has to be one of most stylish cars in the sector at present.
Under the bonnet is a choice of two 1.6-litre turbo-diesel engines, either with 80bhp or 95bhp.
The latter is the pick of the bunch with a 0 to 60mph time of 11.3 seconds and 113mph top speed, while also returning the same 74.3mpg and 99g/km emissions as its less powerful stablemate.
While the engine is a little vocal when starting up, it’s reasonably well insulated from the cabin, especially on the move.
That’s helped somewhat by the five-speed gearbox which boasts especially long gears for a small car like this, particularly on fourth and fifth.
While that helps the noise levels and refinement, it doesn’t always help what’s an otherwise flexible engine with plenty of grunt.
With every 30mph accounting for 1,000rpm when in fifth gear, you can often find yourself having to change down to fourth even on the motorway – which isn’t what you expect.
That gearbox doesn’t exactly endear itself to the driver in other ways, either.
The Ibiza itself handles very well, with sharp steering, especially when first turning into a corner, and little body roll.
The excellent ride quality and plentiful feedback through the steering and seat make it a great driver’s car that can quickly put a smile on your face down a twisty B road.
Except that, along with that long-legged feel on fourth and fifth, it also has a rather notchy change that can easily baulk if rushed, which can sometimes take the fun out of things and make you lose your driving flow.
That’s a shame when the rest of the Ibiza is so good.
Thanks to a height-adjustable driver’s seat and a steering wheel that adjusts for height and reach, there’s a good driving position and the seats are reasonably comfortable.
The interior is well finished, although some cheap-feeling plastics remain in place around the cabin (the rim of the steering wheel feels especially horrid), while the shiny piano-black trim looks nice but shows up marks easily.
It also boasts a decent amount of space, with good head and legroom for adults in the back and a sizeable boot with, thankfully, a space-saver spare wheel as opposed to a useless can of filler.
But then you come to the price. And here, above all else, is where the argument for this diesel-engined version of the Ibiza unravels.
Yes, the engine is refined and economical; yes it’s fun to drive; but there are those issues we mentioned earlier: of the rapidly reducing popularity of diesel, especially in this sector where it accounts for minimal sales anyway.
The Ibiza will go from 0-60mph in 11.3 seconds
Then you cast your eye over the prices in the brochure and against its petrol-engine equivalent. This car is up to £2,400 more expensive.
If this diesel-engine Ibiza didn’t make much sense before, then it certainly doesn’t now with that price tag attached.
By all means buy a new Seat Ibiza; it looks good and is fun to drive. But, whatever you do, make sure that it’s a petrol.
Engine: Turbo-diesel, 1.6, 1.6-litre 95bhp
Power: 0 to 60mph in 11.3 seconds, 113mph top speed (95bhp)
Fuel economy: 74.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 99g/km
Rivals: Citroën C3, Ford Fiesta, Nissan Micra