THE latest SEAT Ibiza is the hero of the brand and has been decorated.
The fifth generation of the supermini series is the first to use the VW Group's new MQB A0 modular platform, which dramatically cuts cost while permitting immense adaptation.
It gives the newest Ibiza more room and better performance including economy and a better ride/ handling balance.
SEAT has also taken the opportunity to significantly upgrade the equipment in Ibiza and its created dedicated trim levels to emphasise features, so the revised four trim levels now include Xcellence which majors on comfort, elegance and technology and was the new version we drove.
The 1.0-litre three-cylinder 95ps engine with a standard five-speed manual gearbox produced a good mix of economy and acceleration, but it could be found lacking mid-range unless you slotted down a gear which affected fuel consumption.
It was able to keep a steady motorway pace but it died away on long gradients and was noisy at high revs in the intermediate ratios.
Having said that, the responsive nature of the engine with a light clutch and slick quick gearchange made it ideal in town use and its steering agility and reassuring brakes inspired confidence.
Secondary controls were close to wheel, well marked and worked faultlessly with good wipers both ends and reasonably bright lights.
They are LED systems and even the interior ambient lighting uses this technology to great effect.
Instruments are very big and clear with a large multi-function screen to view features including reversing camera and very clear images it produced.
For the technofiles, the SEAT Ibiza integrates with mobile phone features and has wireless charging to safely make the most of Wi-Fi technology on the move. Working with Beats audio systems has produced a rich sound from the bespoke speakers and amplifier.
Heating and ventilation is straightforward and works well throughout the car, helped by powered windows.
The oddments space is reasonably good, better in the front, and the boot is enlarged over the predecessor with good access for loading or for passengers to climb in and out.
Seats look thin but proved surprisingly comfortable with good support, although taller drivers and front seat passengers may appreciate longer maximum legroom. There's good adjustment to the steering column, however.
With a low waistline and large glass area the visibility is good all round and the high-quality reversing camera adds to the safety when going backwards.
Generally, the noise levels were low apart from the road rumbles, bumps and thumps from the suspension as it shrugged off potholes and tarmac ridges. Engine noise was usually muted and wind turbulence low, which added to the refinement of the driving experience.
I liked the handling of the SEAT Ibiza 95ps 1.0-litre whether in town or on open roads. It was very easy to park, liked to sweep along country roads and could hold a good average speed on main roads and motorways. The turn-in was good, it gripped well and had no real vices to concern me.
I do feel a six-speed gearbox would make it an even better drive on most roads and give it an edge to acceleration in mid-range without affecting overall economy, so it will be interesting to see if this is fitted in future derivatives.