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Award-winning new Ibiza shines for Seat in supermini sector

Seat's ever-popular Ibiza has been winning sales - and awards - for years.

One year after the release of an all-new generation model, how is it stacking up?

What's new?

There are no better accolade to a car manufacturer than sales and awards.

So, then, it would appear Seat has little to worry about with the new Ibiza, which is scoring in both areas.

Sales are said to be stacking up very well, and the award front going swimmingly, with the Ibiza picking up sector prizes in two of the UK's biggest awards, the What Car? Car of the Year Awards (Best Small Car) and the UK Car of the Year Awards 2018 (Best Supermini) in January alone.

It was an impressive fifth generation overhaul that won it for the Ibiza. This is an assertive, modern and value for money revamp that won the car new friends.

It needs them, of course; this is a highly competitive market segment. Rivals like the Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio, Vauxhall Corsa, VW Polo and Skoda Fabia are ready to gobble up the Ibiza's lunch at the first opportunity.

The Ibiza has been a long-time favourite, having been around since 1984. It remains Seat's biggest-selling car, shifting more than 5.5 million units to date.

Seat has boldly stated that the Ibiza is one of the three pillars of the company, together with the Leon and Ateca.

So what's new about the fifth generation car? Well, just about everything. The one thing that has evolved rather than been totally renewed is the design.

It looks more Leon-ish, which is a good thing as it brings the Ibiza and its bigger brother more into line. The family features are more obvious.

Based on Volkswagen's MQB A0 platform, it's lost weight, gained room and looks a lot sharper. It will only come with five doors.

Seat says the styling is youthful and sporty, and it's hard to disagree with that assessment.The front and rear overhangs are very short, with the four wheels situated virtually on the four corners of the car.

Space and practicality

The new Ibiza is only available in a 5-door option, which is now more functional and Seat's engineers have worked hard to ensure the new design offers the sportier look of a 3-door model.

Inside, the fifth-gen Ibiza is considerably roomier thanks to a new body which is 87mm wider, 2mm shorter, and 1mm lower. It also has a 60mm longer wheelbase.

Rear leg room has increased by 35mm, while head room has gone up by 24mm in the front seats and 17mm in the rear, according to Seat.

The boot is bigger by 63-litres, bringing its total capacity to 355-litres. The loading height has also been lowered.

Under the bonnet

Pulling power comes from new Euro6-compliant engines. The first option is the 3 cylinder 1.0 TSI with 95 or 115 PS, along with a turbocompressor, intercooler and direct injection. A new 1.5 TSI was introduced in late 2017 with four cylinders and 150 PS.

Efficient 1.6 TDI diesel engines come in 80, 95 and 115 PS varieties.

Finally, the MQB A0 platform allows the new Ibiza to offer a compressed-natural gas (CNG) powered 90-PS 1.0 TSI engine, the first of its kind in this class.

The gearboxes available are a manual 5-speed transmission for the 95-PS and lower engines and a 6-speed transmission for the more powerful engines. A dual-clutch DSG 7-speed gearbox is also available.

Trim levels

The new Ibiza has four trim levels, starting with SE, followed by SE Technology, then the sporty FR and finally the range-topping XCellence.

SE is well specced for an entry-level car at this price, with 15-in 'Enjoy' alloys, a 6.5-in colour touchscreen, LED daytime running lights and air con.

SE Technology, which costs £620 more than SE, builds on this, adding Media System Plus, sat nav with 3D map and auto-headlights.

The FR trim comes with the most dynamic and technological equipment to enjoy the best performance.

Exclusive dynamic design elements have been specifically created for it like twin exhausts, a rear diffuser, exclusive front bumper, sport suspension and exclusive exterior black pack. The FR offers four mode settings, Comfort, Eco, Sport and Individual.

Just as FR focuses on sportiness, XCellence focuses on comfort, elegance and technology with a distinctive design combined with more convenient and smart functional equipment and the addition of Alcantara leather-like upholstery.

Safety and tech

The car comes with excellent driving assistance systems including Front Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Keyless Entry System with heartbeat engine start button, a new generation of front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera.

For this class, a standout feature is a wireless phone charger with GSM amplifier that boosts the mobile phone signal.

In terms of connectivity, you also get Apple Car Play, Android Auto and Mirror Link. There's a Beats premium audio system, too.

Pricing begins at £15,125 for the base-level SE trim and rises to £17,310 for the top-spec XCellence model, not counting optional extras.

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