WHAT is it about this car? It ought to drive just like a comparable Volkswagen Polo or Skoda Fabia. The underpinnings after all, are just the same.
Yet it doesn't. Perhaps the sportier styling and more dynamic brand image that this Seat has lead you to push it that little bit harder, revealing unexpected handling talent that a Fabia or a Polo could also offer if given the chance.
But if I can't explain to you why an entry-level Ibiza like this one can offer a sportier drive than the class norm, I can at least elaborate on the reasons why the sportier variants further up the range really relish a good flogging.
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Go for a model with more than 100bhp and it'll also come with a clever XDS electronic differential lock which will help you get the power down more quickly out of tight corners and firing you from bend to bend.
Other pokey XDS-equipped Ibizas include the 105PS 1.6-litre diesel and the desirable 143PS 2.0 TDI FR model which makes 60 in just 8.2s on the way to 130mph.
DESIGN AND BUILD
Whichever Ibiza bodystyle you choose — five-door hatch, ST estate or the sportier three-door SC — it won't at first glance appear to have changed very much over the original versions of this MK4 model. But then few changes were needed. The key tweaks have been made around the headlights and grille, this Ibiza wearing the eagle eye lamps that are now part of the Seat corporate look.
Inside, though there's still quite a lot of black plastic on display and the focus remains on functionality, soft-touch finishes are now used in all the crucial areas and Ibiza regulars will notice the smarter steering wheel, the revised instrument graphics, the higher tone paint surfaces. In the back, the three-door Ibiza SC's swooping roofline will make headroom an issue for taller folk, but five-door and ST estate models should seat two adults and/or three children quite comfortably. There's a 284-litre boot here, a total that rises to 292-litres in the five-door and 450-litres in the ST estate.
MARKET AND MODEL
Expect to pay somewhere in the £10,000 to £17,000 bracket for this Ibiza, pricing that's pretty much par for the course in the supermini segment. There's a £500 premium to go from the three-door SC bodystyle to the five-door bodyshape. And from there, you've the further option of finding another £700 to get the extra carriage capacity of the ST estate.
All models get what today's supermini buyers would see as the basics – front electric windows, tinted glass, a four-speaker MP3-compatible CD stereo with AUX-in point and steering wheel controls, remote central locking, a 12v power socket and a height-adjustable driver's seat.
Safety-wise, there are the usual twin front and side airbags, plus anti-lock brakes that flash the brake lights to warn following motorists if you're making an emergency stop.
Ibiza is important to Spain – and this one certainly is to Seat, its bestseller in a Fiesta and Corsa-dominated market segment stuffed with tough rivals.
It might not be one of the first names on your shortlist when you're shopping for a new supermini but Seat seem confident that once you've tried it, you'll buy it.
And after doing just that and mulling over the figures, I can see why they've got grounds for optimism. Aggressive pricing, sharp styling, a decent breadth of models and low running costs right across the board all weigh in its favour.
This Seat is there or thereabouts in all of the key areas.