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So that's why Ibiza comes out top

Created on 08/07/2018 @ 20:17
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Test Drive by Graham Breeze

SEAT has continued an incredible run of sales records and has become the fastest-growing volume car brand in the UK so far this year.

There’s a small crisis going on in the UK car industry with overall car sales declining so far this year in the UK by 8.8% but SEAT is bucking the trend, boasting an impressive 14% upturn, selling 2,997 more vehicles than by the same time last year.

So when the Ibiza 1.0TSi 95PS FR was named Best Value Car at the annual Company Car of The Year awards it was time to take a look at what all the fuss was about.

SEAT has been building a presence in the small fleet sector so success is really no surprise when you consider excellent running costs, low company car taxation and an inviting four-day test drive programme for potential business buyers.

The Volkswagen Group chose the Ibiza to debut the latest platform tech called MQB AO, which also features in Polo and will be used on Skoda Fabia and Audi A1. It means the vehicle feels bigger and sounds a lot quitter than you would expect from a 1.0litre, three-cylinder engine.

And what’s attracting the fleet buyer is the outstanding levels of safety equipment, connectivity and luxury add-ons that you would expect to pay a lot more for.

The range topping FR which was tested gets bags more than you would expect. There’s automatic braking and pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control, mobile phone charging, LED lights, Apple Car Play and Android Auto and even a flashing reminder to remove your mobile phone.

Independent McPherson front suspension and a semi-rigid rear axle with coiled springs and hydraulic shock absorbers mean the ride is comfortable enough – though a perhaps “over-picky” passenger complained it was too hard.

You soon recognise the three-cylinder drone that the 1.0litre engine produces around town but once out on the open road it’s quiet and smooth, with plenty of performance to match.

Consider you have a top speed of 113mph and 0-62 in 10.9 seconds and you’ll see what I mean about performance levels. And you soon see what’s attracting the cash-strapped fleet buyer too, when you get 57.6mpg on the combined cycle and C02 figures of 106g/km.

Using the MQB AO platform means the Ibiza becomes 2mm shorter but wheelbase is extended by 95mm, giving much more space inside where rear legroom is upped by 35mm and there’s a god sized boot at 355litres.

Most buyers will opt for the SE model which means they get an eight-inch colour screen which dominates the dash. The screen neatly houses most of the controls but is extremely touch-sensitive – in fact annoying sensitive.

It’s not all good news in the cabin either. There’s a complete lack of handle grabs to help passenger or driver in and out and no sigh at all of hangers for clothes which didn’t go down to well with her indoors when setting off on a weekend trip.

The Ibiza is only available in five-door format and the model tested hit the road at £17,235. Metallic paint, rear parking sensors and dual zone climate control pushed that up to £18,318 but the attraction to the fleet market is obvious and will also attract more than enough private buyers.

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