SEAT's first generation Ibiza was designed in a great hurry when the company's owner, Volkswagen, decided its newly bought Spanish offshoot should have a car sized halfway between the Polo and Golf. VW's own engineers were unable to do the job quickly, so almost all the work was subcontracted to VW's traditional supply partners. The Ibiza received an Italian-designed body and what were called 'System-Porsche' engines. Built in Spain, it was a true European car.
The Porsche-designed engines were used as a unique selling point, but as SEAT's early advertising concentrated on 'technology without frontiers', rather than telling us how to pronounce the company's name, buyers got confused. Still, the Ibiza deserved more success than it had. The cars were basically sound though the build quality of early examples was not the best. Later Ibizas are cheap now, though not deservedly so.
The curvy second generation car was a very different proposition and put many of the early model's problems right thanks to a vast amount of extra VW influence. It's now a sound used buy.
The third-generation car was announced towards the end of 1999. Essentially a major facelift of its predecessor, there were over 6,000 changes including new styling front and rear, a much-improved cabin with all-new dashboard and a revised engine line-up.