by Huw Thomas, chairman, Welsh Motoring Writers
VolVo’s XC60, like the XC90, is a long-haul success. For almost a decade it powered along and last year was its best. Volvo’s top selling car – class ‘No.1’ in many places. sEAT’s latest Ibiza is the 5th since 1984 and a mainstay of the range with 5.5m sold. leon’s later success and new Ateca sUV notwithstanding, it remains a key player.
Volvo XC60: £37,205-£57,895
line-up: Momentum/Pro, R Design/Pro and Inscription/Pro. Engines: Diesel D4 (190ps); D5 (235); Petrol T5 (254); Petrol-Electric T8 (320+87). All are 2.0-litre, 4-cyl, 8-speed auto. All Wheel Drive standard with Hill Descent and Drive Mode controls.
longer, wider and lower, the new XC60 is a cautious evolution of the formula – a more compact XC90, yet spacious, with top notch interior fit and finish. All models have an electrically powered tailgate.
Clean ‘scandi-design’ has swept most switch and button functions into the 9” tablet-like touchscreen. Not unproblematic as for XC90 – on the move it’s easy to hit the wrong screen or wrong ‘button’ or have to go back to ‘square one’. Connectivity, communication and navigation enhanced, emergency auto-braking can detect large animals and cover junctions now. There’s also an active driver info-screen.
Majority (business) choice will be the D4 R Design but gutsier D5 with ‘PowerPulse’ injection much better. Road tax rates no different: £200 1st year, £140 thereafter. R Design Pro and above have air suspension (£1,500 otherwise).
First impressions: a versatile, refined touring sUV of real appeal – if not the dynamic prowess of a Jaguar F- Pace, land Rover Discovery sport or (albeit clinical) Audi Q5.
SEAT Ibiza: £13,130-£17,310
line-up: s; sE; FR; XCEllENCE. Engines: 1.0-litre 3-cylinder petrol 75ps MPI or 95/115ps TsI. Transmissions: 5- speed manual (6-speed if TsI 115 or 7-sp DsG-auto). FR also offers a 1.5, 4-cyl 150ps 6-sp(man). Diesel 1.6 TDI 80 & 95 next year. Bodystyle: 5-door hatch only (imminent small Arona sUV will fulfil estate role).
This is the first super-mini from VW Group’s vast MQB system for all small to upper medium cars. It is wider and a touch lower and shorter than before but wheel-base is longer so cabin roomier. VW Polo comes next year followed, no doubt, by Audi’s A1.
The MQB Ao platform is stiffer torsionally yet lighter so the new Ibiza is no heavier despite more equipment and technology. It also improves the dynamics – handling is sharper, ride comfort better. steering feel could have more substance (e.g. Fiesta or MINI) but so good to see retention of a proper handbrake.
‘s’ has a basic 5” touchscreen for audio streaming and Bluetooth hands-free with ‘plug-ins’. But the “big car features” are top-end or extras. Wheels: steel 15” (s), alloy15”/16”/17” upwards but a sportier 18” set for the FR cost £325.
Nonetheless, the new Ibiza is a great step forward and now unequivocally a front-rank supermini.