Motoring writer IAN LAMMING enjoys driving by the seat of his pants in this pokey little hot-shot when he turns up the heat in Ibiza.
AS a general rule you should never go towards the light, if you know what I mean, but on this occasion I was more than happy to do just that.
It’s a Saturday night and the setting sun is drawing me west. The glorious hues seep warmly into my blood, then my soul and a smile grows the further west I travel.
If you live a life plagued by traffic, ironic speed cameras and tedious motorways, this is a time to revel. Most people are either tucked up in front of banal television or out at the pub or restaurant by this time of the day. The curvaceous roads are empty save for a spiritedly driven hatchback – and that is me. Life couldn’t be any better and that is partly down to the car.
On paper this particular SEAT shouldn’t be anything special. It’s a mere 1.2 litre petrol, but the TSI moniker hints it is something out of the ordinary.
SEAT has designed this particular 1.2 to be economical, yes, but the fact it packs a turbocharger means the Ibiza has been transformed into something rather special.
Dial in some natty handling, sticky levels of grip and sharp steering and you have a car that is a hot-hatch in everything but name.
The roads beckon and taunt the SEAT into stretching its legs and the miles are gobbled with great poise and precision. Most importantly, the driver feels what is going on; it’s intuitive and the ride is stimulating. Speed, G-force, yaw and grip are all felt through the seat of your pants making it an exceptional drive.
The 1.2 has real punch, particularly if you have to climb hills or overtake, yet it cruises ably and in a relaxed way when you aren’t in the mood. And even if you rush, the miles per gallon figures remain good.
So it’s a great car to drive and it has all the other characteristics needed to make the Ibiza easy to live with. It looks smart with unusual lines, tidy alloys and great proportions. The interior leans towards minimalist but is nicely put together with decent trim and instruments.
It might have started as a small car but, oh, how it has grown over the years, leaving driver and passengers with room to spread and store all the essentials in the capacious boot.
Ibiza is designed for discerning drivers, in fact, I’ve never driven a model yet that I haven’t enjoyed. The only problem with the TSI is that it makes choosing the right one for you even more difficult still.
THE VITAL STATISTICS
Model: SEAT Ibiza TSI
Engine: 1.2 litre, turbocharged petrol
Drivetrain: five speed manual
Top speed: 118mph
Insurance group: 13
Miles per gallon (combined): 55.4
CO2 (g/km): 119
Price: From £13,990