Superminis with 1400cc engines are a common sight in the modern marketplace. 1.4 litres always seems a good fit in cars of this size and the buying public tends to snap them up.
Sitting amidships in the SEAT Ibiza’s mainstream engine range, its own 1.4-litre option will need to be a strong seller if the car is to do the business in the sales charts. The question is, does it hold the appeal necessary to prevail in this closely fought sector of the market?
Small and small-ish petrol engines don’t tend to gain too many column inches. They aren’t usually the powerplants that qualify as the fastest, the plushest or the most economical models in the range. They are the models that most people buy though and for that reason, they’re worthy of more attention than they sometimes get.
The 1.4-litre engine in the SEAT Ibiza is a four-cylinder, 16-valve unit with a multi-point fuel injection system. It’s modern but no more so than similar units that can be found powering the Ibiza’s rivals. It produces its maximum power of 84bhp at 5,000rpm and peak torque is measured at 132Nm at 3,800rpm. The 12.2s 0-60mph time is usefully faster than the 15.0 seconds that the entry-level 69bhp 1.2-litre engine takes to accomplish the same and the 108mph top speed leaves little room for concerns about it’s ability to keep up with traffic.
The previous Ibiza’s driving experience won praise from all quarters and this car continues that approach. It remains impressively composed in corners and the sharp steering makes it easy to spirit about the place. Sport models feature firmer suspension but even here, the ride isn’t harsh and the things that shine through after a stint in an Ibiza are its comfort, refinement and the overriding big car feel. These are qualities we’d more readily associate with Volkswagen’s Polo than SEAT’s Ibiza but they’re highly desirable ones none the less.
The Ibiza runs on the Volkswagen Group’s latest small car platform dubbed the ‘agile chassis’. It comes in the basic five-door bodystyle and as a three-door ‘SportsCoupe’ which looks lower leaner and meaner with design cues more obviously lifted from the Bocanegra concept car. The interior of the Ibiza is an upmarket affair with some nice trim finishes and good amounts of space front and rear. The sparky design of the outside isn’t really carried over internally and the dash follows a more conservative feel that veers towards style rather than fashion. The colour scheme might be a little grey for some tastes but the Ibiza always feels a quality product when you spend time sat in it.
"This engine will be a big seller for SEAT and those who take the plunge shouldn’t be disappointed."
The five-door Ibiza is 80mm longer than the old Ibiza’s 3,970m and much bigger inside while the 292-litres of boot space is very impressive for a supermini. The car also features a wider front and rear track to give it a foursquare, planted stance on the road while the body structure is extremely rigid to enhance the driving dynamics.
The 1.4-litre engine is offered in SE or Sport trim. SE models come with air-conditioning, a trip computer, electric heated mirrors, cruise control, electric windows, 15" alloy wheels and front fog lights. On top of this, the Sport has racey extras like sports suspension, sports seats and 16" alloys as well as some leather trim for the steering wheel and gear knob. All Ibizas have a five-speed manual gearbox as standard.
The Ibiza features a number of other features more normally found in more upmarket vehicles. There’s a Hill Hold Assist feature to prevent rollback during hill starts, front fog lights with a side illumination function to light the verge when cornering and combined auxiliary and USB connectivity so that you can plug in an iPod, a Zune, a Walkman or whatever kind of music player or data storage facility you own. Safety equipment includes front and side airbags and ABS brakes while ESP stability control with brake assist is an option.
Minimising costs is a vital part of any affordable supermini’s job and the Ibiza 1.4 rises to the challenge well. Average fuel economy of 45.5mpg is pretty good for a 1.4-litre supermini and emissions of 149g/km are also respectable. All Ibizas are accompanied by a 3-year/60,000-mile warranty and twelve years of anti-perforation cover which reflects SEAT’s confidence of victory in the battle against rust. Major servicing is required at 20,000-mile intervals and a dose of fresh oil every 10,000 miles or 12 months.
Dip too far down a supermini’s engine range as a buyer and if you’re not careful, you can start to loose out on capability that you need. The 84bhp 1.4-litre engine in SEAT’s Ibiza is probably as low as you’d want to go if you plan on undertaking regular long distance trips but it still offers the good fuel economy and accessible asking price that is essential at the lower end of the supermini sector. This engine will be a big seller for SEAT and those who take the plunge shouldn’t be disappointed.
Whichever SEAT Ibiza engine buyers choose, they’ll be getting a good-looking supermini with a quality feel throughout. SEAT has high hopes for the Ibiza and rightly so. It certainly has the wherewithal to give the sector’s big guns something to think about.