Itâ€™s all-new again, but is it better with diesel or petrol?
The Seat Ibiza is one of the very best small hatchbacks you can buy. Thatâ€™s not really in any dispute since the latest version arrived earlier in 2017, but it arrived with a fine range of petrol engines. While anyone who can even spell â€˜dieselâ€™ is likely to be burned at the stake these days (using environmentally certified wood), we hesitate to mention that the Ibiza can now be had with a diesel engine.
Does that make any sense, once youâ€™ve stripped out the current hysteria? Itâ€™s a 1.6-litre version, available with either 79bhp or, as tested here, with 94bhp. A claimed economy of 74.3mpg and emissions under 100g/km make a great deal of sense.
Seat Ibiza 1.6 TDI 95 FR
Engine: 1.6-litre, four-cylinder, diesel
Torque: 184lb ft
Gearbox: 6-spd manual
Top speed: 113mph
CO2, tax band: 99g/km, 21%
The engine in either power output meets the latest Euro 6 emissions regulations, and theyâ€™re seriously strict. However, itâ€™s still a diesel, and youâ€™ll hear that rattly old chorus on start-up. There isnâ€™t much vibration, but until youâ€™re under way youâ€™ll be in no doubt that itâ€™s no petrol engine under the bonnet.
On the other hand, once the revs start to rise it all settles down nicely and youâ€™ll enjoy not just the entirely adequate 94bhp, but also the much more impressive 184lb ft of torque. That means thereâ€™s loads of midrange, allowing you to stay in a higher gear for longer.
Having said that, small, turbocharged petrol engines, like the 1.0-litre three-cylinder version, are pretty torque-laden themselves these days, so the diesel is not quite as far ahead as it used to be. But thereâ€™s no arguing with the fuel economy. The claimed figures put the diesel nearly 15mpg better than the petrol engine. If youâ€™re looking for a smallish car and you need to do a lot of miles, that is a consideration.
With Seat being part of the mighty VW Group, itâ€™s interesting to see that the cabin is right up there with the best the group has to offer. Maybe the new Polo is a bit more upmarket, but the Ibiza is a class act these days. Thereâ€™s plenty of space too, both front and rear, and youâ€™d be hard pushed to need more room unless youâ€™re a giraffe tamer.
Our test vehicle came laden with goodies, like the eight-inch infotainment system, which is a sharp and shiny bit of kit that is one of the best in class. Admittedly, youâ€™ll get a small amount of diesel grumble in that cabin, but youâ€™ll also get excellent fuel economy and low emissions.
Is that enough, to warrant a premium of about Â£2500 over a petrol engine, and probably higher depreciation? Itâ€™s hard to argue the case to be honest, and thatâ€™s without any further diesel witch hunts. Maybe if youâ€™re a real high-miler, as itâ€™s a good engine, but otherwise weâ€™d save the money and go for a petrol engine.