The SEAT Ibiza is a supermini manufactured by the Volkswagen Group and sold under the SEAT brand. The Ibiza is based on the same chassis as the Volkswagen Polo 6KV, itself a modified version of the Volkswagen Golf mk3 chassis. The SEAT Ibiza was originally designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, who also designed the VW Golf amongst many others.
Mk. 1 (1985-1993)
The Mk. 1 was based on the Fiat 127/Ritmo/Regata, and used a powertrain which had been developed in collaboration with Porsche. This was the first SEAT which did not share any external body panels with any Fiat model, having been designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro. This version, while it established the now classic Ibiza shape, was advertised as having 'Italian styling and German engines'. In terms of size, it was larger than most Ford Fiesta and Austin/MG Metro sized cars, but smaller than most cars in the Ford Escort and Volkswagen Golf sector. Styling was fairly imaginative and interior space was good, but the Ibiza was let down by suspect build quality, heavy steering and doubtful reliability.
In 1999 the design was bought by Chinese car firm Nanjing and was redeveloped into the Nanjing Yuejin Eagle and 2004 Soyat.
Mk. 2 (6K & 6K GP01) (1993-2002)
The Mk. 2(6K) was the first Ibiza to be produced under Volkswagen Group management and used the underpinnings of the Mk. 3 VW Polo 6KV (actually, the underpinnings of the VW Golf III). It suffered a little from brand identity issues on release. Originally seen as cheap VW, the launch of the Cupra models and rallying success gave it a much stronger sporty image, which aligned with VW's acquisition of Å koda as a budget brand.
The Ibiza's 1.0 L, 1.4 L, 1.6 L, 1.8 L petrol and 1.9 L Diesel (turbo or non turbo) engines would also be used in the next generation Polo. The Ibiza's running gear was also used in the SEAT Cordoba saloon, estate and coupe.
Under Volkswagen's ownership, Seat was marketed as a sporty and youthful brand whose cars were sold at competitive prices. The original Ibiza's problems with bad build quality and unreliability were rectified, as the Ibiza proved itself to be one of the best built and most reliable small cars in Europe.
The Ibiza was also produced in South Africa as the VW Polo Playa and also in Argentina.
In the autumn of 1999 the Ibiza (6K GP01) received a facelift which saw its exterior styling updated and the interior completely restyled. Even though it was approaching its seven year of production, the Ibiza's looks were kept fresh by this impressive makeover.
By the time production of the second generation Ibiza/CÃ³rdoba ceased during 2002, the range had established itself as one of the most popular small cars in Europe of the past decade.
Mk. 3 (6L)
The 2002 Ibiza 6L (or Mk.3 Ibiza, or Mk.4 Ibiza in UK) is the second model to be produced under VW management and is a much more focused car. Build on the Polo 9N platform. Strongly built around a sporty, performance image and designed by Italian Walter de'Silva, the model line up contains a selection of hot hatch variants, topping out with the FR and Cupra amongst the rest of a strong product line. The performance end of the range is helped by the lack of fast Polo variants, especially the cancelling of the Polo GTI. The much improved, aggressive styling has boosted this model ahead of the family-friendly styling of the Polo in the hot hatch market. It is also the largest Ibiza to date, with room for five adults, and a spacious, if rather short, boot. The standard trim level on this model is noticeably higher than previous models.
This is regarded by some magazines to be the best supermini, with What Car? calling it their best supermini for three years in a row.