SEAT Marbella (1986 – 1998) Review

SEAT Marbella (1986 – 1998) At A Glance


+Simple, basic, and cheap to run, rather like a small donkey

-A little charmless, especially compared with the Panda that it was based upon, rust and neglect

The SEAT Marbella was little more than a facelifted Fiat Panda. The Spanish company built its own version of the small Fiat at its ex-Authi factory in Pamplona, between 1980 and '86 - but following the separation of the two companies, SEAT found itself with the need to built its own cars, sufficiently different from those of its former Italian bedmate. The Marbella badge was first used in 1983 for an upscale model of the Panda - and it wasn't until 1986 that it became a model in its own right, now built at the Zona Franca factory - with imports to the UK commencing in 1988.

The Marbella was - in truth - rather inferior to the Fiat Panda. Most notably, it relied on the 903cc engine that had been around since the 850 - missing out on Fiat's brilliant FIRE engine. The Marbella also lacked the style of its Italian cousin, gaining a new Spanish styled front- and rear-end. Sadly, the Marbella proved rusty and fragile, and did little to bolster the image of its maker, although ironically, it's picking up a following with the retro crowd today. Amazingly, the Marbella remained in production until 1998, although imports to the UK ceased in 1995.