Hard to believe the SEAT Ibiza is more than 30 years old already. The simple, wonderfully proportioned first generation celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, and the fifth generation recently made its UK debut at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Initially designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, the car has undergone five redesigns since it was first launched in 1984, with subsequent generations of the model overseen by current VW Group head of design Walter de’Silva, previous head of SEAT Design Luc Donckerwolke and current head of SEAT Design Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos.
All of these designers feature in the above film, walking us through the four generations of the vehicle that helped SEAT establish its identity.
The Ibiza is widely considered the first true SEAT, since it was the first vehicle designed and developed in its entirety by the company. But it didn’t do so alone.
SEAT collaborated with Italdesign and Giorgetto Giugiaro for the first generation of the Ibiza (1984-1993), but also worked with Karmann for the development of the bodywork and Porsche for the technology of the ‘system Porsche’ engines.
There was a clear aesthetic leap in the second generation (1993-2002), which again bore the hallmark of Giugiaro. The lines were rounded and aerodynamic and the car was given a level of equipment and mechanical sophistication that were, in those days, normally only found in cars in the segments above.
Current VW Group head of design Walter de’Silva was responsible for the outline of the third-generation Ibiza (2002-2008), which took another step forward in manufacture quality, engine range and dynamic performance. Wanting to put his mark on the product de’Silva introduced a new aesthetic, while the car’s dynamic prowess took another leap forward thanks to the ‘agile chassis’ concept developed by SEAT’s Technical Center in Martorell.
The fourth generation Ibiza (2008-2014) was overseen by Luc Donckerwolke, Head of Design at SEAT in 2008 and formerly design director at Lamborghini and Bentley. The concept of ‘arrow design’ was introduced, resulting in a car distinctively sportier than its predecessors, but with the same wheels at a corner stance and balanced proportions as its predecessors.
Which brings us to the new fifth generation car designed under the direction of Alejandro Mesonero-Romanos.
Much of the work for this model was in the interior design, as the exterior carries forward the same design as its predecessor but adds extra technology, such as LED lights. Ergonomically designed with a driver focus, the cabin is fitted with more technology and higher-grade materials. There are also a range of color options to personalize the steering wheel, gear stick, air vents, radio buttons and door handles.
Like its predecessor, the new Ibiza is available as a five-door, three-door sport coupé and as a wagon dubbed the Sport Tourer.
The Ibiza has grown to become an iconic supermini for the SEAT brand and a proud symbol of mobility for the patriotic Spaniards. Over the last 30 years, SEAT has sold more than five million examples of the car.