Spanish auto maker SEAT has long been known for simply building Fiat cars under license; it decided, in the early 80s, that the time was right for the manufacturer to take the plunge and start making its own car, the Ibiza. They were wrong. The model didn’t work. Fortunately, in 1990 Volkswagen came around, bought a controlling interest in the company and revamped the Ibiza. They built it, as they are wont to do, on the same platform as the VW Polo, and it was a success: meet the 1994 SEAT Ibiza GTI. Volkswagen retained the same designer as the original Ibiza, Italian master Giugiaro. Contrary to the Polo, however, the front of the car was made bigger so that it could hold more powerful engines.
The Ibiza GTI was equipped with the same engine as the Golf GTI, a torque-rich 2-liter little four cylinder that developed 115 horsepower, more than enough in such a small car. Performance was adequate, with a top speed of 122 miles per hour, and acceleration to 60 miles per hour came in as little as 10 seconds. The engine’s plentiful torque meant that it was a lot of fun to drive energetically, more than mere numbers could suggest.
The 1994 SEAT Ibiza GTI was a successful attempt by Volkswagen to re-brand the Spanish car maker, and was a great demonstration of what could be accomplished with multi-brand, single platform vehicles, something which VW embarked on fully a few years afterwards.