The Seat Ibiza is good looking, well-priced and spacious supermini that doesn’t quite live up to Seat’s sporty image
First DriveDo revisions to the Seat Ibiza FR add any more spice to this warm hatch? We try the 1.4 TSI version on UK roads to find out
First DriveUpdated Ibiza gets a much-needed interior refresh, chassis tweaks and new options, and proves worthy of consideration
What is it?
This is the Seat Ibiza FR. Complete with 148bhp turbocharged/supercharged 1.4 TSI engine and seven-speed DSG gearbox (the hot Ibizas are first in this class to get a double-clutch ’box as standard), the FR fits neatly into the Ibiza range beneath the more powerful Cupra.
Thanks to the advanced tech, the Ibiza FR also gets admirable economy and emissions of 44.8mpg combined and 146g/km.
What’s it like?
Comfortable, refined and strangely more cohesive than the Cupra. Despite the drop in power and torque from the hottest Ibiza, the FR still offers 162lb ft from 1250-4500rpm and on the road it barely feels any slower than its more powerful sibling.
The suspension is lowered by 5mm on the standard Ibiza Sport and is well damped to give a forgiving and supple ride that also manages to be well controlled through corners. All of which goes toward helping the FR’s sharp turn-in and good grip levels, though the sterile steering doesn’t offer much reward, even if it is well weighted.
The gearbox is also less than ideal, kicking down and leaving you too high in the rev range whether it’s in Sport auto or even in manual mode. Which is a shame, because it can end up concealing the potential of the small-capacity engine, which would otherwise be truly excellent.
This doesn’t stop the FR from being competitive in terms of fun per pound, though; its ample acceleration and good cornering ability are sure to live up to buyers' expectations.>/p>
Even so, the real strengths of the Ibiza FR lie in its potential to be both usable, practical and fun.
The DSG ’box works very well in standard auto mode around town, and the cabin offers plenty of style and standard comforts. The Ibiza FR is also one of the most affordable cars in its class in terms of running costs such as tax and fuel. If only it had that element of aggression you expect of a sporty Seat, it would be a very well rounded package.
Should I buy one?
It’s a tempting prospect. At this level of price and performance the Ibiza is one of the best packages on offer, and with the class-leading running costs thrown in there’s even more reason to opt for the striking Seat.
There are still better driver’s cars out there at this price, and as with the Cupra there’s always the impression that a cheaper manual version of the FR would be a much better prospect.
Even so, you shouldn’t buy in this class without trying the FR or you could be missing out on your ideal car.