7: Seat Ibiza – VW’s ‘Spanish patient’ shows signs of a dramatic recovery

Top cars for 2018: After several dreary offerings Seat delivers a truly satisfying small hatchback


Seat had, it seemed, been waiting in the VW wings for a very long time. For ages referred to as ‘The Spanish Patient’ for its seeming inability to turn a profit, Seat was starved of development tech and funds while plucky, precocious Skoda marched ever upwards.

But then Seat launched the Ateca SUV, which built on the solid foundations of the third-gen Leon hatchback, and things improved. So Seat got more attention from its VW parents, and suddenly found itself first in line for the new small car platform, also to be shared with the Polo, Fabia, and A1. Seat was, this time, not found wanting and has made, in the new Ibiza, a truly satisfying small hatchback.

True, it’s possibly not the most exciting thing around, and in basic spec the cabin can look a little too plain, but the driving experience is close to excellent, the 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine (with or without a turbo) is willing and happy to rev, and the quality levels are simply excellent. Right now, in the most competitive class of all, this is the car to beat.

Best model: 1.0 TSI FR

Prices start from: €14,995

Finance package from: €169

CO2 emissions: 106-112g/km

Sum-up: Spanish stalwart upsets the apple-cart