Seat Ibiza ST
Ibiza ST is indistinguishable from its siblings from the front
- Handsome transformation to estate bodystyle
- Useful extra boot space
- Cabin is attractive and well made
- Many economical and low emission models available
- Some engines feel a little underpowered
- Sensitive to choice of exterior colour and wheel size
- No extra rear seat room
- Ride may be too firm for some
Seat is continuing its scheme of offering numerous body styles all based on a single model with the addition of the Ibiza ST. Joining the five-door hatchback and three-door SC models, the ST brings the practicality of four doors with the capacious rear of an estate, whilst maintaining the strong and distinctive exterior design that has become a Seat trademark.
Being part of the Volkswagen group has given Seat the freedom to be bold in terms of its design as well as diverse in respect of mechanics and model range. Whereas many of its competitors have a supermini in a handful of variants, the Ibiza comes in three bodystyles, with a choice of eight engines and three gearboxes.
The ST is designed to be the most practical of the Ibiza line up, with additional boot space squeezed into what remains a compact footprint. The ST is a mere 18 centimetres longer than the five-door Ibiza, but with identical wheelbase, width and height. The more vertical tailgate is neatly integrated into the car's design: the transformation into ST has certainly not created a frumpy or workmanlike vehicle, and it complements the sportier cars in the range.
The sheet metal changes deliver an impressive increase in rear cargo space. With the back seats in place, the ST offers almost as much luggage space as the five-door hatchback can at capacity. Fully folded it has space for two bicycles with the front wheels removed, with additional storage beneath the boot floor.
Rare in this class of car is the availability of the dual-clutch DSG transmission. In the ST it is intended to offer high efficiency rather than the rapid gearchanges of a sports car but, nonetheless, it is a engaging driver tool that adds to the driving experience.
Our verdict on the Seat Ibiza ST
The ST may only take a fraction of total Ibiza sales, but it arguably offers even more than the more popular five-door hatchback. With no obvious compromises in terms of driving dynamics and appearance and only a modest increase in price, the ST has an extra slice of practicality which makes it one of the most versatile cars in its class.
Running costs are a strong point for the Ibiza ST, as it is competitive on initial purchase price and also comes in many variants with impressive fuel economy and low emissions.
Space and practicality
The Ibiza ST is at its strongest here, with respectable passenger accommodation front and rear added to the impressive load area. This remains a supermini rather than an MPV however, so storage areas are all relatively small, as is the glovebox.
Controls and display
The layout of the Ibiza ST is very straightforward, with a clear set of instruments and simple controls. Little familiarisation is required, while the red illumination of the displays is easy on the eye.
Levels of comfort in the ST are more than respectable for this size of car, with good insulation from road and wind noise. Some ST models offer better ride comfort than others: Sport-specification cars have stiffer suspension that has a slightly adverse effect on ride quality, but will still be comfortable in most situations.
Security measures on the Ibiza are of a satisfactory level, with a standard fit engine immobiliser and remote central locking. Higher specification models also come with a factory-fitted alarm system.
The Ibiza comes complete with a good level of safety equipment, with four airbags as standard on all models plus close attention paid to bodyshell stiffness and pedestrian safety. Additionally, ESP is available as an option, bringing with it hill start assistance.
The ST offers a very similar driving experience to the regular hatchback model, with responsive steering, suspension that is slightly biased towards a firm, sport ride and an overall sharpness in the controls that is not present in many of its rivals. Engine choice is a key factor in getting the most from the ST, however.
Family car appeal
Although still a relatively small car the Ibiza ST could certainly provide practical family motoring, with space in the rear for children and all the cargo that goes with them. Older children may want more legroom in the rear than the ST has to offer, but for many it would be a versatile companion.
First car appeal
As a first car the ST would do very well, providing an undemanding driving experience that would not intimidate an inexperienced driver. It also offers a relatively low-cost entry into motoring, particularly in terms of insurance and running costs.
Quality and image
In all guises the Ibiza is clearly a quality car inside and out, with an impressive standard of build throughout. Although the cabin sticks to fairly dark plastics, all the switches and buttons operate with a reassuring solidity. The ST's image is much like the rest of the Seat range in that it has a sporty and youthful feel and, although more practical, the ST compromises little in this respect.
The four side doors give decent access to the front and rear seats, especially given the relatively compact overall dimensions. The change into estate form brings with it a generous tailgate, allowing easy access to the larger load area.
Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)
All Ibiza STs come with a good quality radio/CD unit with an attractive red display. Sound quality is certainly respectable for a standard unit, and the standard auxiliary jack allows other audio sources to be played.
Colours and trim
The Ibiza's strong curves are best suited to bolder and brighter colours, bringing out the best of the design. The larger alloy wheels fitted to Sport models are also something of a must-have to avoid the ST looking undernourished.
The modest increase in length does little to alter the Ibiza's manoueverabilty and it remains an easy car to park. Optional parking sensors make life even easier.
Emergency tyre repair kit as standard with option of full size spare.
Petrol engine options - 1.2-litre (75bhp and 105bhp); 1.4-litre (85bhp). Diesel engine options - 1.2-litre (75bhp); 1.6-litre (90bhp and 105bhp). Transmission options: five or six-speed manual, seven-speed dual clutch automatic. Trim levels: S, SE, SE Ecomotive and Sport.
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