Very much a Eurocar is the SEAT IBIZA, a product of aSpanish car company which is now owned by the Volkswagen group, powered by an engine designed by the consulting arm of German sports car manufacturer Porsche and with the body partially designed by an Italian styling house.
The end result of this combination is a well designed and built -although perhaps visually unexciting - family hatchback with much of the notable production quality of the V.W. range and a lively, fuel efficient engine and gearbox, all at a very reasonable cost.
Still perhaps an unfashionably angular design despite some curving and smoothing of the latest model, the boxiness and height does provide very good space internally, seating for five being quite practical, and the slim pillars accentuate the spacious feel of the car, the upright driving position and large glass area giving a very good view of the road.
The influence of parent company V.W. is clear in the assembly standards which are very high as one might expect, production details being very good, the car being well and solidly constructed and finished.
Well laid out and trimmed internally, the seating position is actually more comfortable than it at first looks, both the the steering wheel angle looks a little odd and the seats look a trifle firm but the driving position is actually very comfortable and the seats are very supportive, having a full range of adjustment.
The clear and simple dash is well laid out, as are all of the minor controls, being for the most part large, clear rocker switches.Cabin stowage is very good and the split rear seats give substantial load carrying space for a family on the move.
Developed by System Porsche, the 1200 cc carburetor engine revs freely if sounding a little strained near the rev limit and the 46 b.h.p. pulls the car along well and quietly at motorway speeds. Cruising fuel efficiency is very good and the light 5 speed gearbox is easily used and complements the engines capabilities well.
The rack and pinion steering, while not power assisted, is very light for parking and low speed town driving yet weights up nicely as speed increases, high speed stability being very good.
A comfortable ride is achieved although the suspension is perhaps a little soft for any spirited driving.Braking is by a disc/drum setup and is very positive although the pedal lacks feel and takes some getting used to.
SEAT have successfully produced, in the new Ibiza, a very easily driven and well mannered family hatch which offers quality in many areas but few frills all at a very reasonable price.