On the move, the Ibiza is a little more fun to drive than most of its supermini rivals, with eager corner turn-in that doesn’t appear to have been much diluted by SEAT’s decision to adopt softer springs and dampers with this revised model. These contribute to a much improved standard of ride quality that previous owners will appreciate. The other key change with this updated MK4 model line-up is the inclusion of the Volkswagen Group’s most up-to-date small petrol powerplant, a 1. 0-litre three cylinder unit that’s being offered here by SEAT in all three of its forms.
Entry-level Ibiza buyers get this powerplant in its entry-level 75PS normally aspirated form, but it’s much better if you can to stretch to this engine in one of its turbocharged ‘EcoTSI’ guises. There’s a 110PS version mated to DSG auto transmission, but we’d suggest that the sweet spot in the Ibiza range is occupied by the 1. 0 EcoTSI 95PS manual variant. Here, 62mph from rest occupies 10. 4s en route to 119mph, yet 67. 3mpg is possible on the combined cycle, along with 98g/km of CO2. Also impressively efficient is the 1. 4 EcoTSI 150PS petrol model, thanks to its clever cylinder deactivation technology. And of course, the 1. 4-litre TDI diesel variants are especially frugal, buyers offered the choice of 75 and 90PS options, or the 105PS version we’re trying here.
Whichever Ibiza bodystyle you choose - the three-door SC, this more conventional five-door hatch or the ST estate - it won’t at first glance appear to have changed very much over earlier versions of this MK4 model. But then few changes were needed. Short overhangs, subtle body creases and smart, angular headlamps still make this one of the smarter superminis in the segment.
Time to take a seat up-front – the part of this car into which most of the design budget was poured when it came to this facelifted model’s package of changes. That was a wise choice on SEAT’s part. There was never very much wrong with the way that the outside of this Ibiza looked, but earlier versions always felt dull, cheap and plasticky once you got behind the wheel. This one’s much nicer thanks to many elements borrowed from its larger Leon family hatchback stablemate, including a smarter dash and upgraded upholstery.
One of the most visible changes is the redesigned instrument cluster you view through the now-smarter three-spoke multi-function steering wheel. The main gauges are separated by a black and white digital information display that duplicates the carousel-style graphics and much of the functionality of the new infotainment screen that dominates the centre of the dash.
In its standard 5-inch form, this display is offered in either black and white or colour guise, depending on the trim level you choose. As standard or as an option, plusher Ibiza derivatives get this particular car’s larger 6. 5-inch colour ‘Media System Plus’ screen, which includes a Navigation system with voice control and comes with proximity sensor so that it’ll sense your finger coming towards it. Whatever screen set-up you favour, SEAT reckons you’ll want to use the display to duplicate the functionality of your smartphone handset and view selected apps. That’s possible if you get a variant like this one equipped with what the brand calls its ‘Full Link’ set-up, there to work through the ‘MirrorLink’, ‘Android Auto’ and ‘Apple CarPlay’ systems. Android users have the added advantage of being able to download two useful apps – the ‘SEAT ConnectApp’ for stationary use and the ‘SEAT DriveApp’ for when you’re on the move.
So the Ibiza at-the-wheel experience is more media-savvy. And, with equal trendiness, it’s also now more personalisable to suit the current market mood. Special optional ‘Colour Packs’ enable you to trim the upholstery, the air vent surrounds, the gear knob stitching and the steering wheel either in red, in a ‘Velvet’ colour or in a shade that SEAT calls ‘Bismuth’.
Finally, let’s take a look a luggage space out back. Press in the large SEAT logo that doubles as a boot release and the rear hatch of this five-door variant opens to reveal 292-litres of luggage space, marginally more than the 284-litre total offered by the sportier three-door SC bodystyle.
In summary, we’re looking here at a car that, like its brand, has matured nicely. One mindful of the fact that modernday Spaniards need to balance Latin spirit with sober sense. In this Ibiza, they’ve a small car that does exactly that.