Is the Seat Ibiza better than the Ford Fiesta? We’re running an extended ownership test to answer that
We’re into month two of an expected six with our long-term Seat Ibiza FR 1.0 TSI 95, and there’s no sign of the honeymoon period ending just yet.
The car’s main keeper James was delighted to get back to the Ibiza after a holiday in the US, where he was bumbling around in a typically boring hire car. Even before he’d exited the company car park back in the UK, the familiar sense of happiness and appreciation came flooding back.
One of the Seat’s first tasks was to whisk James out of London and out to Wiltshire, where he had signed up for a 10k run. After a pre-dawn start on a nippy Sunday morning, the Ibiza breezed through the deserted streets of suburban London and then on to the M3, reminding its passengers that in pure driving terms it’s a brilliant little thing.
It’s impossible not to be impressed by the FR’s one-litre engine. There’s never a feeling of stress even on long motorway journeys. Off the big roads it’s a superb drive, with a secure but light-footed nimbleness that cleverly delivers quick responses without the twitchiness that often afflicts small cars.
In a varied mix of usage, including stop-start commuting through Greater London, fast journey on motorways and flowing A-roads, and duties as both an airport shuttle and shopping trolley, the Ibiza is yet to show a serious weakness. it does everything so well without making a big song and dance about it.
If any fault needs to be found it’s that first gear is almost too eager in London traffic. Rolling along at slow speeds doesn’t come that naturally to it. It seems harsh to criticise the car for the shortcomings of the UK’s road infrastructure though.
The car was performing so well that James was beginning to question his critical faculties. Maybe it wasn’t really as good as he thought, as mature and capable as it seemed to be. Maybe that American hire car had lowered his expectations and magnified his appreciation of anything better.
Those doubts were allayed after James’s colleague Matt took the Ibiza away for a few days. How did he rate it? “Easy,” he replied. “It’s good to drive, assured on the motorway for a car of its size and everything is just where you want it to be.”
As praise goes, ‘easy’ might sound less than fulsome. It’s actually more of an indication that it’s hard to come up with anything that the Seat does badly.