SEAT is a big part of the Volkswagen Group, and a sporty part at that. Iain Dooley, PA senior motoring writer, looks at the fun-to-drive Ibiza supermini.

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Engines – For small cars like the Ibiza the case for petrol is a strong one. SEAT’s engine options afford drivers a broad choice from fuel-sipping low power motors to more powerful units for the racy variants. All work well and make the case for diesel a tough one unless you plan on racking up serious miles.

Exterior – The Ibiza’s rakish profile is a far cry from the previous car’s softer curves. Of course, this was all part of SEAT’s plan to increase the car’s popularity among younger buyers. Five-door models look just as good as the three-door variants, although the latter will likely be more popular with young drivers and those without families.

Interior – Presenting occupants with a pleasingly well-built cabin, the Ibiza’s overall interior ambience is a welcoming one. In typical Volkswagen Group style there’s plenty of black plastic on display, although its hard-wearing nature should outweigh any aesthetic criticism. Space up front is good, while it’s a little less generous in the back as you’d expect from a car this size.

Driving – A more firmly-sprung car than an equivalent Volkswagen Polo, it’s clear that the Ibiza is pitched as a sporty alternative. With a comfortable driving position, good forward visibility and reasonable refinement when on the move, there’s little to complain about. Predictably, diesels offer the best fuel economy but aren’t as refined as the petrol motors.

Ownership – With plenty of choice and a good level of standard equipment available, there’s something for a wide range of budgets. The Ibiza’s compact dimension make it an easy car to live with in an urban environment, although this does mean you’ll need to pack carefully when loading the car for longer journeys. Frugal and costing only a modest sum to own and run, there’s a lot to like about the Ibiza.

What to look for – Typically for a car that’ll spend a good proportion of its time in town, there’s plenty of potential for kerbed wheels and parking dents. Also, with so many short trips likely during its life, look out for soggy brakes and clutch plus unusual noises from the suspension due to general abuse, neglect and having to deal with urban speed humps and potholes. Hopefully this will be the extreme as, being such a new car, all the paperwork should be present and correct and overall condition should be high.

Model history – 2008, latest SEAT Ibiza offered buyers sharp looks, sporty driving experience, frugal engines and good level of standard kit. With engines sourced from the VW Group, quality and economy was assured. Three and five-door models offered, with the latter offering more versatility at a pinch.

Reasons to buy – Choice, good looks, low running costs, fun to drive.

Reasons to beware – Plenty of competition, modest rear cabin space, dark interior, diesel refinement.

Pick of the range – Ibiza 1.4 SE three-door.

What to pay – 2008 08 £5,675; 2008 58 £5,925; 2009 09 £6,400; 2009 59 £6,750; 2010 10 £7,325; 2010 60 £7,675. Figures relate to showroom prices for cars in A1 condition.