Seat Ibiza turns up the volume

No need to sacrifice all your pleasure just for a bit of extra space, writes Matt Joy.The days of 'take it or leave it' model ranges are long gone: now the customer is king and any manufacturer wanting to be competitive has to pack their range with choice.

No need to sacrifice all your pleasure just for a bit of extra space, writes Matt Joy.

The days of 'take it or leave it' model ranges are long gone: now the customer is king and any manufacturer wanting to be competitive has to pack their range with choice. So you get a multitude of body styles, engine ranges, gearboxes, trims and so on. That all this is achieved by ever-greater amounts of platform and component sharing is of little relevance. You, the punter, get more choice.

Even if your chosen machine is supermini-sized. Unlike the previous generation, Seat is now offering its smart and attractive Ibiza in ST form - for ST read Sports Tourer, or estate to you and me - bringing the range of body shapes to three.

Joining the five-door hatchback and three-door SC (Sport Coupe) models, the ST brings the practicality of four doors with the capacious rear of an estate, while maintaining the strong and distinctive exterior design that has become a Seat trademark.


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The Ibiza ST is no less handsome than the regular hatchback or SC models, and the more practical body shape fits comfortably into the dynamism of the Seat range. A modest increase in overall length creates the extra space in the luggage compartment, adding up to an impressive 1,384 litres with the rear seats folded. Handy features such as underfloor storage and lashing eyes make this a proper load-carrier.

Under the new skin the Ibiza ST shares much of its mechanical make-up with its hatchback siblings, which means a wide range of petrol and diesel engines. An Ecomotive diesel version delivers an impressive 94g/km of C02 emissions to qualify for zero road tax, while even the more powerful version is capable of remarkably low fuel consumption and emissions. But even the regular diesels are thrifty, with the 1.6-litre common rail diesel tested here delivering 103bhp and a useful 184lb ft of torque.

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So powered, the Ibiza ST offers respectable performance, moving happily through the five forward ratios of the gearbox passing 62mph from rest in 10.9 seconds. Although no fireball, the useful band of torque removes the need to work the engine hard to make decent progress. Better still, it's just as happy plugging along when loaded up with passengers and luggage.

Running one in this form should also be a pleasing low-cost experience. In 1.6 TDI form the Ibiza ST is capable of 67mpg, and by emitting only 109g/km of C02 qualifies for road tax of just �20 a year. Even better figures are possible with the smaller diesel offerings.

The ST is also available with the impressive 1.2-litre TSI engine, which uses turbocharging and the clever DSG gearbox to provide sparky performance and excellent fuel economy. Although the diesels provide the greatest frugality, TSI versions provide the best balance of performance and economy.

As with much of the Seat range, it offers a driving experience that is a little sportier than its mainstream rivals. Although not uncomfortable, the ride is a fraction firmer than the class standard, which reduces body roll and provides the right ingredients for an engaging drive in the right conditions. The steering is a significant factor here too, offering lightness but also direct responses.

The cabin is up to the impressively-high standards expected from Seat, so although it is relatively sombre, it appears hard-wearing and well built. The driving position is very good and clear vision all round makes for more relaxed driving as well as easy parking.

The Ibiza ST delivers an impressive blend of attributes for a car of this size and price. Roomy, well equipped, fun to drive, attractive and remarkably economical, the ST offers an all-round package that is worthy of serious consideration.

SEAT IBIZA ST 1.6 TDI CR SE

Price: �14,430

Engine: 1.6-litre, 103bhp, four-cylinder turbo diesel

Transmission: Five-speed manual gearbox driving the front wheels

Performance: 0-62mph 10.9 seconds; top speed 117mph

Economy: 67mpg

Emissions: 109g/km

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