Car reviews - Seat - Ibiza - CLX 5-dr hatch
Styling, cabin space, economy, handling
Room for improvement
Parts and servicing can be expensive 1.4 engine isn't a powerhouse no auto option
25 Jun 2003
THE release of the SEAT Ibiza, Cordoba and Toledo model range in November, 1994, marked the Spanish manufacturer's introduction to Australia. Although SEAT was new to Australia, it is a long established company owned by the German Volkswagen/Audi Group.
The Ibiza, Seat's contender in the small car sector, was sold as either a three or five-door hatchback.
Many of its underbody components were shared with the well known and respected Volkswagen Polo and in some areas it was a better car than the established players.
SEAT advertised the Ibiza as a blend of German engineering and Spanish flair but it was a slow seller during the first half of 1995.
This was partly due to SEAT being a new player on the Australian market but the main reason was an uncompetitive price in the hotly contested small-car market.
A hefty price cut in mid-1995 made it a much more attractive buy.
The five-door CLX was competitively equipped with a six-speaker AM/FM radio/cassette, tachometer and remote exterior mirror adjustment.
Power steering and air-conditioning were optional equipment while a driver's airbag was added to the options list in 1995.
The longer than average wheelbase made for good interior space with adequate head and knee room for rear seat passengers and a decent sized boot. The rear seat back can lay down flat to carry extra luggage.
The Ibiza is powered by a four-cylinder, 1.4-litre engine with a single overhead camshaft, two valves per cylinder and single point fuel-injection.
The power output is a barely adequate 44kW at 5000rpm although it does have a reasonable torque output - 107Nm at 2800rpm - with less engine noise than its competitors.
The suspension uses MacPherson struts and coil springs at the front and a torsion beam axle with trailing arms and coil springs at the rear.
Add some European expertise, wider than average tyres and wheels and the result was a new benchmark in ride quality and noise suppression for the small car class with comparatively good handling and steering.
SEAT backed the Ibiza with a three-year/60,000km warranty and 24- hour roadside assistance with service intervals of 15,000km or one year to minimise running costs.
The Ibiza would probably have been much more successful in Australia if the price had matched the opposition when it was first released.
This was its only fault so anyone looking for a car that stands out from the South Korean and Japanese crowd will find it worth a look.
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