April 2006

Seat Ibiza 1.4 Sport

Subtle changes add appeal to the Ibiza

April 2006

picture of car from the frontpicture of car from the rearpicture of car interiorpicture of car in detail

Overall rating

3.5 out of 5 stars


  • Sharp styling remains fresh and attractive
  • Steering and suspension are tuned for good handling
  • Solid build quality inspires confidence
  • Petrol engine is keen and economical


  • Interior changes are relatively minor
  • Rear seat space is at a premium
  • Cabin boasts few bright colours
  • Some plastics feel hard to the touch

With competition becoming stronger in the supermini segment, Seat felt moved to introduce a refreshed Ibiza. Equipment levels have been revised across the range, new models introduced and a host of changes made inside and out for improved refinement, style and performance. Even with the changes, the Ibiza has to contend with much newer cars, giving it a difficult task.

The most obvious changes to the Ibiza are to the exterior. A new front bumper with larger air intakes is fitted to all models, as are twin headlights that give it a sportier appearance. At the rear, a modified bumper features a mock diffuser for a racing car touch. The Ibiza badge is now place centrally on the tailgate, and the smallest wheel size available is now 15 inches, one greater than before.

Inside there are more changes, the most notable being the three spoke steering wheel, which is fitted with stereo controls on some models. New upholstery designs and colours have also been introduced, as have new gearknob designs. The bulk of the dashboard remains unchanged, including the centre console, which is usefully angled towards the driver.

Specifications have been improved across the range, and all models come with remote central locking, a height and reach adjustable steering wheel, twin front airbags and a radio/CD player. Air conditioning is also fitted as standard to all models apart from the entry-level Reference, illustrating the high level of equipment on offer.

Mechanically the Ibiza has benefited from subtle suspension and steering tweaks, designed to improve roadholding, ride and steering response. This is centred around the use of relatively soft springs and stiffer shock absorbers, while the Sport model tested uses specific sport suspension settings for a high level of grip and handling.

Our verdict on the Seat Ibiza 1.4 Sport

Several improvements to the Ibiza have refreshed its appeal, and it remains a practical, well built and fun to drive car, which offers good value for money. Compared to newer rivals it does feel a little dated, but its breadth of ability means it can hold its own in the small car sector.


Running costs for the Ibiza should be very low indeed, with good fuel economy from the petrol engine, low insurance grouping and the competitive initial purchase price.

Space and practicality

The Ibiza's age means it is now one of the smaller superminis in the marketplace, but despite this it offers respectable space. Front seat passengers have good leg and headroom, although those in the rear have less legroom and headroom is relatively restricted. Boot space however is good, with a wide and deep load area.

Controls and display

New instrument facings are a welcome addition to the Ibiza's interior, and as well as being more attractive they are also easier to read than before. The rest of the controls are simple to operate and understand, and are easily accessible on the centre console.


For a car of this size, the Ibiza has a respectable level of comfort. Wind and engine noise is relatively low, although road noise is a little more apparent. The front seats are comfortable and supportive, and those in the rear are also comfortable for most people.

Car security

All models are fitted with an encrypted engine immobiliser as standard, as is remote central locking with deadlocks for a good level of security. The radio aerial is an anti-theft item and the fuel cap is fitted with a lock too.

Car safety

All Ibiza models are fitted with twin front airbags as standard, with a deactivation switch for the passenger side to allow a baby seat to be used. The standard fitment of ABS and front seatbelt pretensioners are also a useful safety feature.

Driver appeal

The 1.4-litre engine is a sprightly performer, and although its output is modest, it is keen to rev and responds sharply to accelerator inputs. The steering and suspension also have a sporty feel, and while the Ibiza is perhaps not as soft riding as some superminis, the pay off is that it is a fun car to drive.

Family car appeal

In five-door form the Ibiza would make a good family car, thanks to the good boot space. Smaller children will also be able to fit easily into the rear seats, though a family of five would find it a squeeze.

First car appeal

The Ibiza is an ideal first car, particularly in 1.4-litre Sport form. It is an easy car to drive, and should be cheap to purchase, maintain and insure. It also has a strong visual appeal with a sporty flavour, making it attractive to typically younger buyers.

Quality and image

The quality of the Ibiza is very good, with the whole cabin feeling like it would remain solid through many years of use. The manner in which the controls operate also instils a feeling of quality. The Ibiza's image is helped by the sporty styling, which is one of the reasons why it has such a youth-oriented image.


In five door form the Ibiza presents no accessibility issues, with decent door openings front and rear and a wide opening boot. Taller passengers may find getting into the rear seats a little more difficult, but for the majority of people it is straightforward.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

A simple DIN-sized stereo with a radio/CD player is fitted as standard, which provides reasonable sound quality. Some of the buttons are quite small and difficult to press, but the display is clear and informative.

Colours and trim

Although the interior has been revised, the colour scheme has changed little, leaving the dominating colour as black. Touches like the white-faced dials help to lift the tone, but it will be too dark for some tastes. The materials themselves feel sturdy and well constructed, if not as soft to the touch as some competitors.


With relatively compact dimensions and good visibility all round, parking the Ibiza is easy. Although the rear window is relatively small, the vertical tail makes it easy to judge where the rear of the car is. The power steering is also light, making it an ideal car for squeezing into small spaces.

Spare wheel

Steel spare fitted beneath the boot floor

Range information

Eight engine options: 1.2-litre petrol (63bhp), 1.4-litre petrol (74bhp), 1.8-litre turbocharged (147bhp and 178bhp), 1.4-litre diesel (79bhp) and 1.9-litre diesel (97bhp, 128bhp and 157bhp). Five-speed manual gearboxes are fitted on all models except the two highest output diesels, which are fitted with six-speed manuals as standard. An automatic gearbox is available with the 1.4-litre petrol engine. Trim levels are Reference, Stylance, Sport, FR and Cupra.

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