EVER since its introduction in 1984, the Seat Ibiza has been in the shadow of big-selling sector rivals such as the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Corsa.

Despite notching up global sales of 5.4 million, and becoming the company’s “key pillar” as Seat emerged as one of the fastest growing automotive brands in the UK this year, it still needed that extra something to lure punters.

The new fifth generation version provides the answers to why you should put it on your shopping list.

More compact on the outside and with much more room inside, this fifth-generation Ibiza features the latest connectivity, comfort and safety technology.

It is built on the Volkswagen group’s MQB A0 Platform, offering more roominess and stability. In addition to being 87 millimetres wider, there is 24mm more headroom in the front seats as well as 35mm more legroom in the rear seats. The seats are 42 mm wider, too, making the Ibiza one of the best in its class in this area.

With the largest boot of its segment - 355 litres, which is 63 litres more than the previous generation – it is keeping one eye on the practical while offering plenty of technology to keep even the most nerdy happy.

This is the first time that the Ibiza has featured an eight-inch integrated touchscreen, wireless charger and GSM signal amplifier.

And among the driver assistance systems are front assist, traffic jam assist and ACC adaptive cruise control.

Seat has plumped for an edgier, sportier design, featuring more sculpted exterior surfaces to partner the creation of what is a very impressive cabin

There are four petrol engines to choose from, with the starting point being a three-cylinder 1.0-litre 75PS unit. The most popular choice looks certain to be the three-cylinder 1.0 TSI with 95 or 115 PS, along with a turbocompressor, intercooler and direct injection. A new 1.5 TSI will be available in late 2017 with four cylinders and 150 PS. Efficient 1.6 TDI diesel engines will come in 80, 95 and 115 PS varieties.

I tried out the 95PS version of the petrol unit and found it to be both willing and agile. It’s important that the Ibiza remains a fun drive as well as delivering on the comfort and tech fronts, and my verdict is one of mission accomplished.

The new SEAT Ibiza is offered in four trim levels – S, SE, FR and Excellence -with the SE trim likely to find most homes. It comes with 15-inch alloys, LED daytime running lights, five-inch colour touchscreen, steering wheel-mounted controls, six-speaker audio (but no DAB radio), air conditioning, a leather steering wheel, Bluetooth audio streaming and hands-free system, auto headlights and amid a host of other safety and comfort features.

All of the controls and instruments are situated around the driver in the highest position possible to avoid the driver having to take his or her eyes off the road.

In terms of connectivity, the Ibiza is the only car 100% connected thanks to three options: Apple Car Play, Android Auto and Mirror Link.

In design terms, the Ibiza is now fresher and more youthful, yet it has also matured through its new proportions.

The front and rear overhangs are very short, with the four wheels situated on the four corners of the car, making the car stable, dynamic and sporty.

The FR trim comes with details that bring out its sporty character, such as the exhaust tips either side of the rear bumper. The XCellence trims receive chrome details that emphasise their sophistication and refinement.