The first ever car I owned was a 1996 Seat Ibiza, I bought it for €300 and the guy was so pressed to get rid of it that he offered to deliver it to my house to have a look. I should have known this was too good to be true, especially given that my father is a mechanic and as soon as he saw the car parked outside he asked “what moron would buy that thing”. I drove that car for 4 months before selling it.
It shook when I went above 100 kph, the timing belt and water pump went in the first month, it was leaking every fluid imaginable and to turn the heating on you had to plug a cable into the cigarette lighter, which failed in 3 weeks just as we got a massive snow storm in Ireland. I didn’t care about any of this, I loved this car and I named it Betsy. Everyone probably feels the same about their first car.
The Seat Ibiza was introduced at the 1984 Paris Motor Show as Seat’s first real independent car project with a little help from Karmann and Porsche. This first generation was also the last before the company was consumed by the VW group and all subsequent models were moved onto VW platforms. However there is one thing the Seat Ibiza kept within the family, a bit of it’s own unique style. I love how Seats look and always thought they stand out a lot more than the Golf’s or Polo’s of this world.
Ten years on from driving that 1996 Seat Ibiza, today I take a fourth generation, 2012, Seat Ibiza with a tiny 150,000 km on the clock for a spin to see how the newer ones stand up in comparison to my old bucket of bolts.
Personally I think this car is absolutely stunning and it should be. It was designed by Luc Donckerwolke, the Belgian man who designed a lot of beautiful cars in the VW group including the Lamborghini Gallardo, Murcielago and the 2014 Bentley Flying Spur. Now I’m not going to say I would chose this car over any of those but I will say it is a stunning looking little hatchback. The front lights kind of to me have that Lamborghini look and also a look of a cat staring down it’s prey. Just me?
The black roof looks absolutely incredible on this white car and I really like the rims except for the space saver due to getting a flat tire at the rear. The angles of this car really make it stand out and I would say that it definitely looks much better than the Mk5 Polo or Audi A1 which are build on the same platform as this car.
The rear of this car also has lights that make it look like it’s insulting you. The entire look of this car is very Italian which I love. Its a Spanish brand name, built in Germany, with Italian style designed by a Belgian. So if you want a European car, this is definitely the best bang for the buck.
This car came with Petrol engines ranging from 1.0 litre 3 cylinder (seriously, if you bought this, please stop reading my article now…shame on you) to a 1.8 litre 4 cylinder. There were also two diesel engines available a 1.2 litre and a 1.6 litre, with a 2.0 litre Diesel introduced in 2010.
However the one I’m driving today has none of those engines, it has a 2.0 litre Petrol, which was only released here in Mexico and it really goes. It’s surprisingly powerful and pulls this light body along very quickly. The only thing I wish is that Seat made a 6-speed manual transmission however this 2 litre only has the 5 speed which doesn’t make sense to me.
In terms of reliability, in return for borrowing this car, I helped with servicing it and being honest I cannot believe that it has done over 150,000 km because it’s still running incredibly smoothly with absolutely no issues.
I recently drove a 2019 one of these Seat Ibiza’s, I’ll be doing an article and video on it later in the week (quick self promotion…sorry), however I actually prefer the interior in this car. The newer ones have more technology and features but when it comes to driving there is something really nice about the interior of this one. I love that the center console is slightly angled towards the driver, it makes it feel very driver focused like an Alfa Romeo.
The controls are simple and minimal, I can do everything I need quickly, which is nice. This is really the last generation of cars without Touchscreens and 14 million functions that you need to hop through just to get the air-con to switch on.
Overall I really love this interior and the sound system isn’t bad either. The seats are really comfortable too.
Even with the mileage and the fact it’s 7 years old, the seats haven’t worn, the steering is light but gives good feedback, the pedals are still light and the gear changes are smoother than a toddler’s rear end.
There is a very sporty feel to this car, you sit really low down and the lumber support helps in the corners. The steering is really responsive and I feel very confident throwing it into the corners at some speed. Even through it’s front wheel drive, there isn’t much torque steer, probably because there isn’t much torque!
The acceleration on this particular engine makes it a great motorway churner too and it isn’t too bad on gas as the frame is very light, giving it a good power to weight ratio.
You can pick these cars up relatively cheap now on the second hand market and if I were you, this is the car I would go with over a Polo. To be honest, I’d go with this over a 2012 Golf, especially if I could get it with a 1.8 or 2.0 litre petrol. The styling is just better and even though it’s a VW engine, there seems to be less common issues with these over that of a Golf.
I give it 3 thumbs up. I’ll be back soon with more content but in the meantime, follow me at the locations below and let me know in the comments your thoughts on the Seat Ibiza or Marxism’s resurrection in the world.