It’s all-new again, but is it better with diesel or petrol?
The Seat Ibiza is one of the very best small hatchbacks you can buy. That’s not really in any dispute since the latest version arrived earlier in 2017, but it arrived with a fine range of petrol engines. While anyone who can even spell ‘diesel’ is likely to be burned at the stake these days (using environmentally certified wood), we hesitate to mention that the Ibiza can now be had with a diesel engine.
Does that make any sense, once you’ve stripped out the current hysteria? It’s a 1.6-litre version, available with either 79bhp or, as tested here, with 94bhp. A claimed economy of 74.3mpg and emissions under 100g/km make a great deal of sense.
Seat Ibiza 1.6 TDI 95 FR
Engine: 1.6-litre, four-cylinder, diesel
Torque: 184lb ft
Gearbox: 6-spd manual
Top speed: 113mph
CO2, tax band: 99g/km, 21%
The engine in either power output meets the latest Euro 6 emissions regulations, and they’re seriously strict. However, it’s still a diesel, and you’ll hear that rattly old chorus on start-up. There isn’t much vibration, but until you’re under way you’ll be in no doubt that it’s no petrol engine under the bonnet.
On the other hand, once the revs start to rise it all settles down nicely and you’ll enjoy not just the entirely adequate 94bhp, but also the much more impressive 184lb ft of torque. That means there’s loads of midrange, allowing you to stay in a higher gear for longer.
Having said that, small, turbocharged petrol engines, like the 1.0-litre three-cylinder version, are pretty torque-laden themselves these days, so the diesel is not quite as far ahead as it used to be. But there’s no arguing with the fuel economy. The claimed figures put the diesel nearly 15mpg better than the petrol engine. If you’re looking for a smallish car and you need to do a lot of miles, that is a consideration.
With Seat being part of the mighty VW Group, it’s interesting to see that the cabin is right up there with the best the group has to offer. Maybe the new Polo is a bit more upmarket, but the Ibiza is a class act these days. There’s plenty of space too, both front and rear, and you’d be hard pushed to need more room unless you’re a giraffe tamer.
Our test vehicle came laden with goodies, like the eight-inch infotainment system, which is a sharp and shiny bit of kit that is one of the best in class. Admittedly, you’ll get a small amount of diesel grumble in that cabin, but you’ll also get excellent fuel economy and low emissions.
Is that enough, to warrant a premium of about £2500 over a petrol engine, and probably higher depreciation? It’s hard to argue the case to be honest, and that’s without any further diesel witch hunts. Maybe if you’re a real high-miler, as it’s a good engine, but otherwise we’d save the money and go for a petrol engine.