Once known as a small, struggling marque, SEAT is now one of the most important brands within the Volkswagen Group umbrella. The latest car to roll out from the Spanish automaker is the compact Ibiza, built on the new MQB A0 platform. It's bigger than before, with more space inside and a greater focus on refinement. Enough to make people consider one over a VW Polo, or will this Spaniard continue to play second fiddle?
Given it shares a platform and engine lineup with much of the VW Group range, there are only so many ways Seat can make its new car stand out from the crowd. On paper, it would appear the brand has chased greater refinement than before, thanks to a fresh iteration of the MQB Platform and a 30 percent increase in body stiffness. That should also make for a sharper handling car, as should a wider track and longer wheelbase – although you'll need to wait for the Ibiza Cupra to see what the chassis can really do.
The longer, wider chassis doesn't just benefit handling, it also frees up more space in the cabin. Rear legroom has grown by 35 mm (1.4 in) and there's an extra 24 mm (0.94 in) of headroom in the front, which is useful if you're tall or insist on driving around in a top hat. Although you won't confuse it for a van, the 355 liter (12.5 cu.ft) boot and lower loading lip make the Ibiza a more practical proposition than before.
The full range of engines on the Ibiza meet new Euro VI emissions regulations, and make more power than their predecessors. At launch, petrol power will come from a three-cylinder turbocharged engine making 94 hp (70 kW) or 113 hp (84 kW) depending on trim, while a four-cylinder turbo with 148 hp (110 kW) will join the party later in 2017.
A 1.6-liter diesel making between 79 hp (59 kW) and 113 hp (84 kW) is also on offer, while the new platform supports a compressed natural gas option as well. Entry-level cars come with a five-speed manual, while a six-speeder is offered on higher spec models. A seven-speed dual-clutch 'box is also available as an option.
As you'd expect of a modern city car, the new car will be fully loaded with active driver aids like adaptive cruise control with stop/go in traffic jams, forward collision warning and the requisite reversing camera. Beyond the safety equipment, there's also more technology inside, including a new eight-inch touchscreen built into the dashboard.
The new Ibiza launches at the Geneva Motor Show in March, where New Atlas will be on the ground covering all the action.