Car Test   R0272
October 2002
  Seat Ibiza
Printer Friendly Page Featured model: 1.9TDi SE 5 door
Like the Arosa, this latest Ibiza bears a close resemblance to a VW Ė in this case, the Polo. However, any good cook will tell you that how you mix the ingredients makes all the difference; in this case, how much spice is added, as well.
   The Ibiza has been set up to be fun to drive, so the suspension is set firmer Ė an S or this SE feels close to the Polo Sport in its responses and the Ibiza Sportís chassis is uncompromisingly set up to optimise cornering prowess.
   Similarly, the top-powered Ibiza (the 130bhp version of this 1.9 diesel) delivers its considerable accelerative thrust with a degree of mechanical brashness, whereas this still remarkably rapid 100bhp version is all sweetness and ease.
   Actually, in company with the Polo, this installation is the first to quell those unwelcome driveline tremors, below 1500rpm, that all previous VW Group products using this engine have suffered. This is important, because 1500rpm on this diesel amounts to 45mph in top gear, so in traffic, low-speed flexibility is important.
   Itís an important contribution to the modelís remarkable fuel economy, as well; around the lanes or suburbs, this Ibiza feels delightfully uncomplaining in its (still tall) fourth ratio and will actually mumble along at idle speed without complaint Ė then accelerate away again.
   Also, because of its long stride, 70mph cruising (at over 50mpg) is subdued and relaxing, and although our experience of the other (petrol) engines in the Ibiza range confirms that they too are refined, this is the one that gets our vote for all-round satisfaction.
   Interior differences between Polo and Ibiza are subtle; there are the same supportive seats with reasonable legspace, there are fewer anti-slip surfaces and the lighting and heater knobs are harder to grasp; the red-hued dial lighting is clearer, though. The S pack is pleasingly complete, with a simpler form of air conditioning thatís still perfectly acceptable.
   Three lap-and-diagonal seatbelts with their attendant head restraints, two air-bags, ABS and a 60/40 split, folding back seat, are all standard.
   In terms of costs, this 100bhp TDi is much cheaper than the equivalent engine in the Polo Ė indeed, the Polo 1.4 TDi is on price-parity. There is an equivalent Skoda Fabia, however, thatís worth serious consideration, especially if you prefer a more compliant ride; the front seats arenít so supportive, however.
   There are small differences in the warranty terms between the three brands, as well. Again, the Skodaís seems the least restrictive, apart from its anti-rust cover lapsing two years sooner.
   Remember also that these modern diesels are sophisticated and longer-term running costs are dependent on reliability; this one also demands special (expensive) oil and a new camshaft drive belt at 60,000 miles Ė when the warranty expires.
  considering size, price and rivals
Overtaking Ability
Fuel Economy
Safety Euro NCAP
Security, theft of
theft from
  • three-flash lane-change indicators
  • carpet beneath the back seat
  • full-size (though steel) spare wheel
  • spot-on trip computer
  • back seat hinges obstruct (stepped) load floor
  • non-retracting rear head restraints
  • climate control display/controls too low
  • unprotected paint on door sills
Despite all the various badges, trim levels and engines you can obtain with VW Groupís newest supermini, itís not easy to pick an outright favourite. If, however, you like a strong infusion of sporting flair, rather than the most space and comfort in your small hatchback, then this Ibiza takes some beating.

engine 1896cc, 4-cylinder, diesel; 100bhp at 4000rpm, 177 lb ft at 1800rpm; belt-driven single overhead camshaft, 8 valves   transmission 5-speed manual, front-wheel drive; 30.6mph/1000rpm in 5th, 23.7 in 4th (29.7/23.0 on S version)
suspension front: independent damper/struts with integral coil sprints.
rear: torsion beam (dead) axle, coil springs, trailing arms
  steering electro-hydraulic power assistance; 2.9 turns lock-to-lock; 10.2m diameter turning circle between kerbs (14.6m for one turn of the wheel)
brakes ventilated discs, front solid discs, rear with standard anti-lock control (on SE; brake-assist and stability control on Sport)   wheels/tyres 6in alloy with 195/55R15V tyres (steel with 185/60R14 on S version); full-size (steel) spare

size and type 3- and 5-door (mid-priced) supermini hatchback   trim levels S, SE, Sport
engines petrol: 3 cylinder/1.2litre/65bhp, 4/1.4/75, 4/1.4/100
diesel: 4/1.9/100, 4/1.9/130
  drive front-wheel drive, 5-speed manual (6-speed on TDi/130); no automatics

HOW THE IBIZA 1.9TDI COMPARES engine (cyl/cc/bhp) revs at 70mph (rpm) 30-70 through gears (sec) 30-70mph in 4th/5th gears (sec) fuel (mpg/CO2) brakes from 50mph (kg/m) maximum legroom - front (cm) typical leg/kneeroom - rear (cm) steering turns/circle (m) overall length (cm)
Seat Ibiza 1.9 TDi 4/1896/100 2290 9.4 13.7/20.5 57/135 20/26 109 96/71 2.9/10.2 396
Citroen C3 1.4 HDi 16v 4/1399/92 2550 12.3 17.5/26.5 63/112 14/26.5 108 95/69 2.8/11.4 385
VW Polo 1.4 TDi 3/1422/75 2750 14.6 17.1/22.7 56.5/124 18/26 108 96/71 2.9/10.2 390
Vauxhall Corsa 1.7 DTi 4/1686/75 2850 12.7 16.3/22.8 57.5/126 14/24 106 95/70 2.9/10.4 382
Peugeot 206 HDi 4/1997/90 2600 11.4 14.4/19.8 52.5/136 8/26.5 108 94/66 3.3/10.1 384
Fiat Punto 1.9 JTD 4/1910/80 2330 14.2 17.1/25.4 52/130 12/27 108 96/67 2.8/109 384

Excellent front seat support; clear, logical displays, but some minor knobs awkward to grasp. Clever tandem mirror adjustment, but back seat head restraints don't help rear view.
Firmer spring settings make Ibiza tauter through the bends with little roll. Steering sensibly weighted and precise. Sport version even firmer - to the point of harshness at times.
Not a bad ride, but cat's eyes and road rumble more prominent. SE's climate control works well, but not easy to read - low down. Diesel gives quiet, effortless progress, with outstanding tractability in traffic.

Flexible in low speed use, then off like a scalded cat when the revs rise past 1500rpm on full song. Ideal gearchange too; makes the petrol versions seem tame. 130bhp version isn't so demure - more the brash tearaway.
  acceleration in seconds through gears 3rd gear 4th gear 5th gear
  20-40mph 2.9 4.6 9.0 15.5
  30-50mph 3.8 4.3 6.7 11.1
  40-60mph 4.8 4.7 6.5 9.3
  50-70mph 5.6 5.6 7.0 9.4
  30-70mp 9.4 9.9 13.7 20.5
  max speed in each gear (* using 4300rpm for best acceleration)
     gear      1st*      2nd*      3rd*      4th*      5th
     speed (mph)      24.5      45      71      102      119 (3900rpm)

The acceleration on tap makes this model's frugality all the more remarkable. Excellent motorway mpg partly due to its high top gear. Nice filler and sensible tank range.
  type of use (air conditioning off) AA test (mpg) 
    urban (17mph average/heavy traffic) 36.5
    suburban (27mph average/6.4 miles from cold start) 49.5
    motorway (70mph cruising) 51.5
    cross-country (brisk driving/20 miles from cold start) 59
    rural (gentle driving/20 miles from cold start) 69.5
    overall mpg 57
    realistic tank capacity/range 38/475
    official mpg (urban/extra urban/combined) 43.5/68.9/56.5
    CO2 emissions 135g/km
    car tax band B

NCAP tests on sister-model Polo look good for all except pedestrians. Switchable passenger airbag, the option of two side bags and Isofix child-seat mounts. ABS is standard and the brakes impress.
  for VW Polo (Ibiza not tested)
  from 50mph (with standard ABS)
front impact     75%
side impact     89%
overall     82%
overall safety rating    
pedestrian rating    
pedal load     stopping distance
unhurried 10kg     33.5m
sudden 20kg     26m best stop
+4kg ie 24kg     26m
fade resistance/consistency    
Euro NCAP = European New Car Assessment Programme: independent crash safety tests evaluating protection for occupants and pedestrians in an offset frontal collision, side impacts and pedestrian strike conditions
click here for more NCAP details/test results etc.

Thanks to a higher-set load cover, Ibiza has best load space behind seats. Not a flat, extended load deck, however and boot sill is high but rear cushions easily removed.
  in centimetres (5-door hatchback)
  length 396
  width - including mirrors 185
    - mirrors folded 170
  height 144
  load sill height (inside/outside) 23/71
  turns lock-to-lock 2.9
  turning circle (metres) 10.2
  easy to park/garage?
  front - legroom 84-109
    - headroom 93-100s
  rear - typical legroom 96
    - typical kneeroom 71
    - headroom 93
    - hiproom 126-131
  load area(all seats in use)
  load space
(all seats in use)(litres/cu ft)
  load length 58-119
  load length to facia 26
  load width 96-121
  load height
(to shelf/top of aperture)
59 85
s no sunroof

SE and Sport have an alarm and deadlocks, so the NCSR rating is better; all models offer good security, however, with insurance group ratings to prove it.
central locking  
remote control  
remote window closing  
alarm (perimeter + interior) - standard on SE only  
static self-locking   
two-stage unlocking   
attack-resistant glass   
tailgate separately lockable   
AA load area security rating
=standard    =option    =not available
NCSR - "theft of"
NCSR - "theft from"
NCSR = New Car Security Ratings: a 1 to 5 star system which rates anti-theft protection, both of the car itself and the theft of valuables from within the car
Visit for more details
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