The Seat Ibiza name originated in the 1980s, and was the first car produced by the manufacturer after Fiat stepped aside, and VW took ownership. Along with the Seat Leon cars, it forms the Spanish company's assault on the compact hatchback sector. These characterful motors are a popular buy among more open-minded UK buyers, so what benefits do they offer?
Strengths and weaknesses of early models
The current range of new Seat cars for sale is primarily aimed at the younger buyer. This is evident from the image of both the cars and the Seat dealerships. This wasn't always the case, however, as the early cars had a reputation of being rather dull and conservative, especially when viewing opposite offerings from other car manufacturers. The little Ibiza Mk1 was a roomy car for its class, but certainly no hot hatchback. Engines ranged from a desperately slow 44 hp 900cc to a more hardly inspiring, 1.7 litre with up to 110 hp. Mechanicals were fairly simple and the interior had a bit of style, but most of these earliest cars have fallen foul of rust by now. This is by far the most serious issue when buying one of these, and should be your prime concern. The Mk2 of 1993 was fully produced by VW and doesn't it show! Styling was far more edgy and the Polo shared platform makes for a much more refined drive. Interiors became more traditional, losing the unusual approach of earlier cars but becoming more hard-wearing as a result. It was also released as a saloon in the form of the Seat Cordoba. Rust is far less of a problem on these models and VW derived engines are extremely reliable, including the range topping 2.0lt 16v. The Mk3 from 1999 were more sporty in their intent, with the launch of the Cupra underlining this. By now, they had become far more popular and offered all you'd expect from a VW at a bargain price. Trim levels and engine range were extensive and all received excellent reports from buyers and the press.
The new Ibizas
The new Ibiza cars are true sector leaders in the market. Firmly placed as the youthful car choice they have a sporting feel. Although larger than their predecessors, they handle like a small car. Quick, pointy steering always leaves you feeling in control. The Seat Ibiza FR and SC are real barn stormers with proper performance credentials. Even the Seat TDi manages to feel sharp, despite it's diesel power. Seat dealers and garages are popular with owners, and the Seat logo has a strong reputation. VW ownership has changed the fortunes of this Spanish maker, long may it continue.