By Patrick James on 2016-08-27 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
SEAT Ibiza SE 1.4
SEAT has never really had a problem in the looks department.
The company has been churning out eye-catching and affordable cars for some time, but the latest upgrade of its best-selling Ibiza has added even more substance to the style.
I once owned a 2007 plate Ibiza and the best two words to sum up its interior would be plastic and tinny.
SEAT has not dramatically changed the exterior since it was overhauled by the stylist for the Lambroghini Gallardo, which is probably a wise choice.
However, a much-needed focus on the interior has produced a far more refined car.
The modern and clean layout includes a central-mounted colour touchscreen system and an white-on-black dials on the dash.
It has also caught up with some of the competitors by offering clever smart phone connectivity, bluetooth and much better quality materials for the interior.
It's definitely a case of less is more as you are not overwhelmed with buttons or dials and all of the controls neat and stylish.
It also feels more solid than previous versions and the round air vents with shiny black surrounds and splashes of chrome make it feel like a far more expensive car.
SEAT offers six trim levels across the range, kicking off with the basic E.
From there, buyers can move up through S to a mid-range SE spec, and onto the Vista and Connect versions.
There's also a sporty FR model and a range-topping 178bhp Ibiza Cupra.
This mid-range SE trim provided bags of kit that included alloy wheels, an upgraded colour touchscreen system, steering wheel mounted audio controls and six speakers.
It also featured extra cost packages, which included £580 for an upgraded navigation system that included features like 3D maps, proximity sensors, and Bluetooth voice control.
There was also an extra £100 added onto the price for a spare wheel, £145 for a clever phone link system and £230 for a convenience pack that included auto headlights, rain sensing wipers and auto dimming mirrors. There was also £530 for the metallic paint.
The extras pushed up the list price by £1,585 from £15,575 to £17,160.
But even the entry-level Ibiza E provides a five-inch (black and white) touchscreen, a USB port and four-speaker stereo. The S adds air-conditioning, a DAB radio and steering wheel controls while the alloys only arrive as standard on the mid-range SE.
The Ibiza features the new VW 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine in its range, but the tested 1.4-litre diesel proved exceptionally frugal,.
The 75bhp Ecomotive model is the most efficient model in the range, and claimed to hit 83.1mpg. Just as good, carbon emissions are below 90g/km, making it exempt from road tax and one of the lowest in the benefit in kind taxation range.
It showed no signs of running low on fuel during a week of motoring and whilst it took 13 seconds to reach 62mph it also felt surprisingly punchy.
It was also better to drive than before with a much more comfortable ride and it and proved to be nimble and responsive around town and just as capable on the motorway.
The driving position is excellent and there is really decent vision all round. It also felt much smoother on the roads when compared to older models of the Ibiza.
In terms of space the five door model had a very decent 292 litres of deep and well-shaped boot space, which jumped to 847 litres when the rear seats were down - proving very useful for a garage clear out.
The Ibiza also features an array of standard safety kit, including six front and side airbags, stability control with emergency brake assist, tyre pressure monitoring and ISOFIX child seats mountings.
As a rival to the likes of the Peugeot 208, the Ford Fiesta and the Vauxhall Corsa the new upgraded Ibiza is an excellent option.
It's a car that shares the underpinnings of the VW Polo - so no problems there then - but it sits below it in price.
SEAT Ibiza SE 1.4 TDI Ecomotive
Mechanical:75bhp,1,422cc, 3cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 107mph
0-62mph: 13.0 seconds
Combined MPG: 83.1
Insurance Group: 13
C02 emissions: 88g/km
Bik rating: 18%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles warranty
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