Author Archives: Ian Billingham

SEAT Ibiza 5dr Front Side

SEAT Ibiza 5dr – Sad to see it go!

I was sad to see this car go! It took me to Scotland and back, up to Birmingham, sight-seeing and was my faithful friend that never put a foot wrong. From delivery mileage until time of saying goodbye at around 8000 odd miles, it was a great car.

It was of the first face lifted Ibiza’s on site at Crawley Down Group and I was given the chance to use it. With its new look and updated interior over the previous model, I was looking forward to seeing how much SEAT had improved it.

The 1.6 TDI 105PS engine is pretty effortless in such a lightweight car. Around town averaging 40mpg is respectable enough and on long runs, you were seeing between very high 50’s and low 60’s. Great fuel consumption. It pulls very well from around 1,200rpm where the torque of the engine is very apparent and it makes driving the Ibiza easy.

The interior is well laid out with everything within reach and the dashboard aimed towards the driver. I really liked the illumination of the dials; the red and white worked really well and felt somewhat upmarket and a nice touch. The seats are comfy although I would have preferred a little more support around my back. I prefer to sit in a seat as opposed to sit on one.

The stereo main control is situated on the right hand side of the unit which takes a little bit of getting used to but feels right when you have adapted. It has MP3 capabilities as well so loading up a CD full of mp3 songs is a great way of listening to music whilst on the go especially when you can fit something like 150+ songs on one disc!

I drove this car a fair distance and on some long runs. The distance to my arrival in Scotland from my home in Crawley is around 480 miles. I had to give up before the Ibiza gave up! I arrived still having a quarter of a tank of diesel left! Fantastic! Albeit quite tired though!

It’s for all the little and small reasons why I liked the Ibiza. It never appeared to be phased by anything thrown its way, no matter the size. Being able to fit 2 pushchairs in the boot, 2 kids and 3 adults is no easy task but it managed it, just!

The only thing missing from it was character. I like cars to feel like they have a soul and unfortunately the Ibiza didn’t. However, it made up for this in many other ways. As a car to use on a day to day basis, I couldn’t fault it. It delivered every time and with ease. I don’t know how the petrol version would be but in diesel form, the Ibiza is very reliable and easy to use.

SEAT Mii Front Side

SEAT Mii – Small, practical and affordable

To be honest, every time I have walked past a SEAT Mii, I’ve thought of it as just a car, nothing more, and nothing less. Something you sit in to take you to A to B with no fuss and no hassle. In some respects, it is exactly that, but it’s the first SEAT I have driven in a while which has a little character about it. This surprised me.

From driving other previous models of smaller car, like the VW Fox, Renault Twingo, first generation Ford Ka, there is always that sense that you are driving something that is the size of your shoe which it not so much the care about the Mii. It is actually quite roomy inside. Don’t get me wrong, would I like to travel from London to Scotland in the back of one, no thanks, but for the purpose of what these small cars are designed, it fits the bill pretty well.

Build quality is neat and tidy, everything feels like it has been put together well with no rattles or shaking when hitting bumps or when keeping momentum through a corner (something I will come back to later). This little car, even after less than an hour of driving, could win me over here…

The engine in this model is a 1.0, 3 cylinder, 3 valves per cylinder 60PS on paper seems again to fit the city car criteria well. It won’t be setting any land speed records any time soon but it has enough poke to get you into trouble if you wished. It was actually quite difficult to keep it at 30mph with the gearing set up, always found myself travelling at 40mph. Tax band B costing you £20 for 12 months road tax. It has got a tiny fuel tank of only 35 litres but with a combined average of around 62.8mpg, the little tank would have enough scope to take you roughly 480 miles from full until empty. Impressive!

A point I made earlier about momentum, how is it to drive? It feels very frugal and nimble. It has poise and doesn’t make you feel like you are about to fall over while going round a corner. The seats are supportive, the driving position is ok, however, I would have liked to have seat height adjustment just too fine tune the position. One point following on from this is you have to duck down to see what speed you are travelling at as the top of the steering wheel covers the speedo. Not a massive issue, but I don’t think Mr Police officer would accept this as an excuse! Now, back to momentum: For such a small engine, don’t expect it to throw you back into your seat, excuse the pun, but you can still find yourself grinning! If you set yourself up in the correct position on the road you’ll find yourself with a big smile on your face and thinking, I want to do that again! It gives a responsive and direct feel, the steering isn’t too light or heavy and it’s genuinely a nice place to be.

Summary of the SEAT Mii:

It’s a little like the TV adverts where it does exactly what it says on the tin. It doesn’t pretend to be anything other than it is which can fault a lot of cars these days. For city driving, perfect, easy to drive, great turning circle, cheap to run. For long runs, would rather be the driver than a passenger but I thinks that more personal preference! A great little car for the money and for the correct usage.


SKODA Rapid “It’s a 1.6 right?!”

The SKODA Rapid from launch has been a bit of late bloomer by all accounts. It was launched at the same time as the previous Octavia was still being manufactured and didn’t really fit anywhere but now with the launch of the new Octavia, it all begins to make sense! SKODA has upped their game and the Rapid could pass for the new Octavia… Twisted logic? Correct! This is taking nothing away from the new Octavia, in fact, in cements its role even further!

The bright red Rapid 1.2 TSI 85bhp I have been driving for the past few months was a launch model so full of useful toys and gadgets, ticking all the boxes so far! When I was told I could use the Rapid, I thought, ok, well, let’s give it a go and see what happens. What has actually happened is that I’ve found it to be nothing more than helpful, rewarding and a pleasure to drive. I couldn’t recommend one enough!

The 1.2 TSI engine is something that I have heard a lot customers say,” A 1.2 won’t be enough power, do you have a 1.6 or something similar?” Try one!! That’s all ill say… You WILL be surprised by the response of this little engine. I was! It’s lively, full of go and still returns an impressive 40+ mpg while pottering round town. On long runs, I’ve seen low 50’s at times. The engine becomes very asthmatic after 4,000 rpm so pointless winding the needle round but up until that point, it’s surprisingly entertaining. Sounds quite nice too!

The car itself is spacious and easy to drive. The boot is huge with plenty of space for shopping, kids pushchairs etc, and it’s full of storage compartments. One in particular I really like and found completely by accident under the driver’s seat, there is a small pocket for your ‘high vis’ jacket for driving across the EU. Nice little touches SKODA!

On to the useful toys and gadgets! The stereo incorporates a DAB Digital Radio which reminds a little bit of the SiriusXM Satellite Radio in the USA, brilliant for all your local radio stations and more that you probably haven’t even heard of! It also has Satellite Navigation with voice guidance and the MFD (Multi-function display) between the rev counter and the speedo gives you all the turns as you need them. Great safety feature as you don’t have to take your eyes from the road for too long. The main feature I found most useful was the Bluetooth integration. Simply pair your phone up to the stereo, and that’s it, your phonebook is on the touchscreen and you can voice dial from one button! I’ve never been so social via the use of the phone before! Once connected, you can also stream via Bluetooth any music you have on your phone! Nice for when you have exhausted the 100+ digital radio stations you can receive! Located just underneath the stereo, an AUX in 3.5mm jack point and a USB slot. Given the right device connected or maybe the correct lead connected to the USB slot and your phone, you could then stream all media from it to the screen on the dashboard.
This model had heated seats as well which was nice on the cold mornings! Nothing worse than getting into a cold car on a very cold morning!

Summary of the SKODA Rapid:

If I was looking for a mid-sized family car, it would be pretty near the top of the shortlist. It is refined, cheap to run and easy to drive with all the space you could need. Clever little features and storage show how it’s been well thought out by the SKODA engineers. Excellent on long runs and just as happy with going to the shops for the groceries. Love all the toys and gadgets!