What is it?
This is the facelifted Seat Ibiza - not that the casual observer would necessarily be able to tell. Speak to a hardcore Seat anorak, however, and they’ll soon point out the new headlights with daytime running lights, additional paint colours and some new alloy wheel designs. Nothing groundbreaking, then.
No, Seat has focussed most of its efforts on the interior and the oily bits under the bonnet. You can choose from a brace of three-cylinder motors with or without boost or, more interestingly, the 1.4-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with ‘ACT’ Active Cylinder Technology.
Although it makes the same 148bhp as the old turbocharged and supercharged 1.4, it promises better fuel efficiency thanks to the aforementioned ACT, which allows the four-cylinder engine to run on two cylinders at low engine loads for improved economy.
What's it like?
Compared with the similarly powerful Vauxhall Corsa Red Edition we recently tried, the Ibiza FR feels significantly quicker. With a claimed 0-62mph time of 7.6sec, the Seat beats the Vauxhall by 1.3sec.
Not only is it faster outright, but the Seat also feels more muscular across the rev range. It may lack the supercharger of its predecessor, but it doesn’t seem to have affected the low-end shove at all. If you’re pootling, you can almost treat it like a diesel – no surprise given that maximum torque arrives at just 1500rpm.
As we’ve found with other Volkswagen Group cars with the ACT tech, it’s virtually impossible to tell when the engine is running in its reduced-cylinder mode. There’s no real change to the noise and you don’t suddenly feel like the engine is operating on half of its cylinders, but put your foot down and there’s the briefest of pauses before the Ibiza pulls strongly.
If you're in the mood for some fun, you’ll find that the engine has plenty of thrust, although it isn’t really worth revving much past 5000rpm. The noise is sufficiently sporty, but there’s little chance any of the hairs on your neck will be standing up as a result.