Seat's new Ibiza - unveiled today - spearheads a new model offensive from the Spanish company. The Barcelonan bosses hope that more and improved models will transform the brand from a bit-part player within the VW empire to a major manufacturer producing nearly a million cars a year.
The new Ibiza certainly looks the part. These first pictures confirm that it will become one of the sleekest superminis around, as hinted at in the Bocanegra concept
at last month's Geneva motor show.
That show car (pictured bottom right) points to the sportier three-door that won't be unveiled until later in the year (possibly at July's London motor show, or Paris in October) and there will be an estate Ibiza too. But today, Seat slid the covers off this new five-door.Out polo-ing the Polo
As well as the slick looks (penned by design boss Luc Donckerwolke), the key thing to understand about the new Ibiza is that it uses the oily bits from the next
VW Polo. It's the first time that Seat has been the lead platform guinea pig within Wolfsburg's empire, so it should ensure that the Ibiza drives well and has full use of the latest modular technology within the group.
What sort of tech are we talking about? The sort of initials that aren't often seen in the supermini sector, including twin-clutch DSG gearboxes, hill-hold assist, active headlamps that peer around corners and USB connectivity for those obsessed by carrying their entire music collection with them everywhere.
It's the classic cascade approach for technology. Twenty years ago, we heard that ABS would trickle down the likes of the Merc S-class. Now we're seeing the same happen with the latest batch of electronic gizmos...Click 'Next' to read more about the IbizaOur reporters are at the launch of the Ibiza in Spain today, so come back later for a full analysis of Seat's new babyIbiza by numbers
The new Seat Ibiza is longer than today's car - at 4050mm long, it breaches the four-metre boundary that used to define superminis. It's certainly not following the less is more philosophy of the new Mazda 2 and Ford Fiesta. There's a flipside to the growth spurt: the new Ibiza is claimed to be unusually roomy inside, and benefits from a 292-litre boot. That's the largest in the supermini class.
The track is wider front and rear by around 3cm to aid stability and all versions will be front wheel drive at launch. The five-door will offer three petrol options, all mated to five-speed manual gearboxes and producing less than 160g/km (no big shakes for a supermini, it has to be said):
• 68bhp 1.2-litre 3cyl
• 82bhp 1.4-litre 4cyl
• 100bhp 1.6-litre 4cyl
No news yet on the diesels, but there will be a range of TDI models in due course.
Other big car features include the adoption of safety gadgets galore, with new side airbags, ESP stability control and other electronic handling gizmos to keep the Ibiza on the straight and narrow.
Seat: new models galore
The Ibiza marks the start of a busy period for Seat. In autumn 2008 we we will see the Mondeo-rivalling saloon and estate
that go on sale in 2009, and it's the first time the Spaniards will have competed in the busy D-sector. It's based on the last-gen Audi A4 and takes its front end design from the Tribu off-roader
, another new arrival coming in 2009. In autumn 2009, we'll see the new Alhambra MPV, too.
Beyond that? Well, Seat will definitely get its own city car to replace the Arosa. It will be based on the VW Group's new Up, the back-to-basics mini that could mean a bargain price of just £5000-6000. Our reporters are at the launch of the Ibiza in Spain today, so come back later for a full analysis of Seat's new babyCome back to CAR Online for the Ibiza first drive in May 2008