SEAT Ibiza SE 1.0

Eco TSI

SEAT Ibiza, side static
SEAT Ibiza, front static
SEAT Ibiza, rear static
SEAT Ibiza, dashboard
SEAT Ibiza, rear seats
SEAT Ibiza, front seats
SEAT Ibiza, sat nav
SEAT Ibiza, boot
SEAT Ibiza, upright static

SOMETIMES less is more, smaller is better and cheaper beats dearer.

Take the crisply styled SEAT hatchback driven here; you can buy an Ibiza with a much bigger and more powerful engine that will add thousands to the bill.

And yes, you'll go either a lot faster (with petrol doing the work) or use less fuel, with diesel in the tank, but this 1.0-litre Eco car does so well with so little I'd not look elsewhere in the range.

Not that many years ago the prospect of a family-sized hatch with a mere 1.0-litre engine would look like a recipe for frustration as queues formed behind on every hill.

How times change; you can have the latest Ibiza with three versions of a three-cylinder 999cc petrol engine with three power outputs and all of them will make a decent stab at providing stress free family motoring.

The car has a useful 94bhp, thanks to a turbocharger adding some puff and looks a better bet than the cheaper non-turbo or a different turbo model with added pep but a bigger bottom line.

And it really doesn't feel at all feeble when pressed. A characteristic shared by all three-cylinder engines is an engaging burble when asked to provide peak power - the Ibiza sounds almost sporty as the needle races towards red on the rev counter.

At no time did it feel out of its depths, from winding country lanes to a motorway cruise - where an eye was needed to stop the car straying into licence endorsement territory.

Drive with verve you will still have trouble dipping under 50mpg; use a lighter right foot and 60mpg is possible. The test car showed 54mpg for its week's use.

A diesel version will do better but cost more (£785) and hardly anyone buys their Ibiza with one of them under the bonnet.

The Ibiza comes in three shapes, with a three-door SC hatch saving £450 on the price of the five-door and the ST estate adding £700 to the bill. Engines range from the 1.0-litre, through 1.2 and 1.4-litre petrol and 1.4 diesels to the range topping 1.8-litre petrol Cupra at more than £18,000.

Less is more applies to the way the smallest engined Ibiza drives too, with the lighter engine lending a delightful easy going feel to the steering. A light clutch and precise gearchange add to the pleasure.

More is better when it comes to equipment levels, you might imagine. So it proves with the SE model on test, with standard kit including alloy wheels, front fog lights with a cornering function at low speed, manual air conditioning, remote central locking, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, DAB radio, Bluetooth and audio and phone controls on the (leather wrapped) steering wheel.

The car came with £580 worth of satellite navigation, as clear and easily read on its big screen as systems in much dearer cars. A space saver spare wheel costs £100 and replaces the bottle of sealant that comes as standard and won't fix a sidewall tear.

FAST FACTS

SEAT Ibiza SE 1.0 Eco TSI

Price: £13,975

Mechanical: 94bhp, 999cc, 3cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 119mph

0-62mph: 10.4 seconds

Combined MPG: 68.9

Insurance Group: 14

C02 emissions: 98 g/km

Bik rating: 16%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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