IF EVER a car was worth considering as a purchase simply because of the engine, then this is it.
SEAT Ibiza is, of course, a good car in other ways. It is, after all, built by the Volkswagen group which is a master at strong quality and understated design.
But it’s the engineering which sets this car apart: a 1.0 litre engine which fluctuates between three and four cylinders, depending on the demand placed upon it.
To have a one litre unit return 67mpg is one thing. But to manage almost hot-hatch performance of 0 to 60mph in 10.5 seconds is quite another.
You might expect to pay for it in other ways? Maybe the emissions are sky-high? No, they’re 98g/km, below the key 100g/km figure.
Maybe it sounds harsh? Well, it isn’t a symphony beneath the bonnet but I’ve driven far more clattering affairs than this. It sounds perfectly OK and it won’t frighten horses (or shoppers).
This engine shows how the Ibiza has evolved into a tremendously under-rated motor. It tends to be overshadowed by its siblings from Volkswagen and Skoda, most notably the Polo.
The hatchback Ibiza is the most commonly seen model but tested here is the Ibiza ST, or Sports Tourer, which is actually a compact estate. It is more capacious than previous Ibiza STs.
Style-wise, it is OK. It’s prettier from the front than the rear, but it is really a decent, stylish package. Anyway, its merit comes from its overall package rather than sleek and stylish lines.
It has little to offend, though I must say the B pillars - the middle roof pillars - are a little intrusive. They are further forward than expected, which makes access to the rear seats easy. The driver and front-seat passenger, on the other hand, will need to develop an entry routine. It’s not hard but it’s more difficult than it good be.
Ibiza - a common site on our roads since 1984 - is well equipped and solidly-built. The cabin will be familiar to anyone who has been inside a VW in recent years.
The test model had a convenience pack (£230) which adds automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming rear-view mirror and electric folding mirrors.
It also has Full Link (£145) which adds Mirrorlink, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, features which will be welcome by anyone who relies heavily on a mobile phone.
The navigation system (£580) isn’t cheap but it is good, offering a 3D map display, driver’s display, two SD card slots and navigation voice control.
The Ibiza is the fourth-generation model and the latest model is designed to fit alongside the new Leon.
Ibiza is also a very versatile car, spanning affordable city cars to load-carrying estates and a flurry of high-performance sports models, too.
Standard equipment on all models includes alarm, immobiliser, stability control, electric front windows, remote central locking, four airbags, height-adjustable driver’s seat, height and reach-adjustable steering wheel, four-speaker stereo, body-coloured bumpers and hill-hold control.
It is up against some heavyweight opponents such as Renault Clio, Peugeot 208, Vauxhall Corsa, Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris, Hyundai i20, Kia Rio and MINI hatch, but there is enough in this model to make it at least a contender.
In addition to the styling changes, the new Ibiza has emerged from the Martorell Technical Centre in Spain with detail improvements to the cabin and materials, and a simplified range structure - all with the aim of delivering more of the driving appeal and practical satisfaction that has made the Ibiza such a success to date in a fiercely competitive market.
The Ibiza in ST form is the most practical of propositions, squeezing estate car ability into supermini proportions. Taking on the challenge of combining space and dynamic looks, the new Ibiza ST packs 430 litres of boot space into a compact exterior, rising to a vast 1,164 litres with the rear seats folded.
That’s good. The fact that Ibiza ST shares the looks and dynamics of the rest of the family is a bonus.
Ibiza is consistently SEAT’s best-selling model and it seems the latest version will continue in the same vein.
SEAT Ibiza ST 1.0 Eco TSI 95PS
PRICE: £14,675 on the road. Ibiza starts at £9,995
ENGINE: A 999cc four cylinder unit generating 95ps
PERFORMANCE: Top speed 119mph, 0 to 60mph in 10.8 seconds
COSTS: Average 67.3mpg
INSURANCE: Group 14E
WARRANTY: Three years, 60,000 miles