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New Ibiza top of Santa wish 

SEAT’S Ibiza has established itself as one of the top players in the supermini market.

And the fifth genera-tion is set to build on a success that has brought more than 5.4 million sales since the car’s launch in 1984.

It’s always been a little favourite of mine and my wife’s three-door 2006 model still looks smart and sporty – and is well up to the mark when it comes to handling and performance.

Having said that, it is no match for the latest Spanish sizzler that arrived in UK showrooms in July.

Great advances have been made in safety, design, com-fort and technology.

The SEAT branch of the Volkswagen Group was chos-en to build one of the first models on its new MQB AO platform.

The new Ibiza is only available in five-door body style with more and more manufactures going down this road, due to motorists’ preference for this in the supermini segment.

Designers have sculpted a sharper and sportier model.

Exterior dimensions are only marginally increased but an extra 60mm added to the wheelbase brings a much more roomy cabin, front and rear.

Boot space is also expanded by 66mm to 355 litres, rising to 823 litres with rear seats folded.

There are five trim levels – S, SE, SE Design, FR and, new to Ibiza, XCELLENCE.

All are packed with stan-dard equipment and on entry-level model this includes air con, auto headlights, hill hold control, multi-collision braking, front assist, electrically adjustable door mirrors and media system touch with Bluetooth, USB port and aux-in.

Step up to the SE version I sampled and you also get 15-inch alloys, LED daytime running lights and tail lights, front fog lights with cornering function, leather steering wheel, gear knob and handbrake trim, six-speaker audio and media system colour.

SE Design models add a panoramic sunroof, dark-tinted rear windows, ‘design’ alloys and a 300W Beats audio system.

Sporting highlights on the FR include 17-inch wheels, twin exhausts, redesigned rear bumper, SEAT drive profile, sports front seats, flat-bottom FR steering wheel, sports suspension and dark-tinted rear windows.

And top-of-the-range XCE-LLENCE goodies include Alcantara upholstery, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and go, and front and rear parking sensors.

There’s a choice of petrol and diesel engines and these include three 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol versions with power ranging from 75ps, to 95ps and 115ps.

My car had the middle power 1.0-litre engine and it was a perky performer.

It is the ideal car for town driving with good all-round vision and light steering allowing easy parking mano-euvres.

The Ibiza’s new platform brings even better handling agility than its predecessor and it wasn’t short of fun appeal.

Road grip was superb as I tackled winding bends at speed and suspension was never too hard.

This model can reach 62mph in 10.9 seconds and is capable of 113mph.

There was plenty of power for good mid-range accele-ration as I moved up and down a super slick five-speed ma-nual gearbox.

It was also quiet and smooth at maximum motorway speeds with little wind, road or engine noise.

The car tested is also pretty economical with a claimed average fuel consumption of 60.1mpg.

Interior quality has been upped and I was more than happy with the driving position, allowing easy use of all controls and touchscreen.

The latest-generation multimedia technology allows all sorts of connectivity options with various options available.

On-the-road prices start at £13,410 with the test car priced at £15,595.

If a supermini is top of your Santa wish list you’ll struggle to find a better value for money one than this super new SEAT Ibiza.