SEAT Ibiza updated for 2021 – debuts all-new interior

SEAT’s supermini picks up new tech and a fresh interior, but still no Cupra…

The SEAT Ibiza has been given a refresh for 2021, building on the fifth generation model revealed three years ago with some subtle changes outside and more substantial ones in. Unfortunately, despite teasing us with a Cupra variant earlier in its model cycle SEAT, or Cupra rather, will once again leave the supermini well alone, keeping the Ibiza a more sensible supermini than our ideal.

Fundamentally, the Ibiza hasn’t changed under the skin, pairing its Polo-derived MQB-A0 platform with a set of petrol engines. The previous top-tier 1.5-litre four-cylinder has been taken off the menu, leaving just a single 1-litre three-cylinder engine in naturally aspirated 79bhp form, topped with two turbocharged units with 93bhp and 108bhp. The two lesser engines are five-speed manual only, with the 108bhp unit upping this to a six-speed and offering an optional seven-speed dual-clutch. 

The chassis layout is otherwise standard-issue VW-group supermini, with MacPherson struts up front and a torsion beam at the rear. There are no fancy adaptive dampers or variable ratio steering options, but as with all its platform mates it will instead focus on feeling like a bigger car than it is, rather than something sportier. 

The changes have instead been focused on styling and tech, headlined with an all-new interior. It has been entirely redesigned, largely to fit a larger infotainment interface that now sits atop the dash, rather than being integrated into it. The interface itself (8.25-inch standard, 9.2-inch optional) is the new system found in other SEAT and Cupra models, and despite the usual lack of controls is actually one of the more intuitive new generation systems from the VW Group. 

The exterior design is almost identical to the previous model with no changes to the front and rear fascias. The only new elements are a fresh rear badge in SEAT’s new cursive script, and the standard fitment of the Ibiza’s previously optional LED lighting elements front and rear.

Unfortunately, a prospective Cupra rival to the fabulous new Hyundai i20 N or omnipresent Fiesta ST remains no more likely than when it was first scrapped just after the Cupra brand’s launch in 2018. Despite a wealth of VW Group components that could be utilised, it was proven with the uninspiring Polo GTI that good ingredients don’t naturally result in a good final product. 

The new Ibiza will be put into production in the third quarter of this year alongside a refreshed version of the closely-related Arona compact SUV, with an updated Polo and all-new Fabia based on this same platform not far behind.

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