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Back to Listers SEAT
By Andy Enright
Added 21st August, 2015
, updated 9th September, 2015
The fourth generation SEAT Ibiza is one of those cars that was tweaked and fettled until it really came good. It helped that the basic design was right but this model really only got into its stride after the 2012 model update, when new engines and a smarter interior were added to the mix.
As a used buy, this refreshed MK4 model Ibiza is good value for money, as residual values haven't stood up quite as well as its Volkswagen Polo counterpart. Ideally, we'd want one of the rare 1.4 TSI ACT engines, but if funds didn't permit that, base 1.2-litre petrol and diesel variants make a lot of sense too. Spanish flair on a budget? That's about the size of it.
SEAT has pushed the performance boat out with its 310PS Leon Cupra R hatch. Jonathan Crouch reports.
SEAT's MK5 model Ibiza supermini gets a range of strong engines, including an efficient 1.0 TSI three-cylinder unit. The experts at Car & Driving check it out.
At the end of the day, it's horses for courses. If you're a red-blooded hot hatch enthusiast, you'll have no time for eco-conscious hot hatches like this one. You'll want a Renaultsport Clio 200 and happily put up with its firm ride, noisy engine and high running costs. The Ibiza Cupra is for a more thoughtful kind of buyer.
Someone with bills to pay and a green conscience. Someone who still loves to grip-and-go but doesn't need to be doing it every waking mile. For you, this Ibiza Cupra will suit perfectly, quick but resolutely high-tech and in every way 21st century. Truly a shopping rocket of our times.
Ibiza's important to Spain - and this one certainly is to SEAT. Over 5.4 million examples of this car have been sold since the original first generation model's introduction back in 1984. If SEAT can promote this fifth generation car properly, then it stands a chance of gaining a place somewhere near the top of the rather over-stuffed shortlists that most browsing supermini buyers will be working though. An inherent product rightness certainly counts in this Ibiza's favour, borne from a real attention to detail that's come through development of this model line over a quarter of a century.
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.
You'll rarely get a better or more credible excuse to own a coupe than this. The Leon SC doesn't even claim to be one but spec it properly and there are all the feelings of fashionable indulgement that ownership of this kind of car can bring. Without the usual downsides of high pricing, cramped rear seating, restricted cargo capacity and a compromised day-to-day driving experience.
This SEAT suffers from none of these issues - but of course you can't have everything. There are lower-slung, slinkier coupes. And there are more practical three-door hatches. Finding a reasonably priced car better able to combine these two attributes though, could take you a very long time. So this three-door Leon emerges as that most appealing of things: a sensible car that makes you feel special. Which in turn, makes it, in its own sensible, affordable way, a very special car indeed.
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