From £9,9408
Do 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

Our Verdict

Seat Ibiza

The Seat Ibiza is good looking, well-priced and spacious supermini that doesn’t quite live up to Seat’s sporty image

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.

The gearchange is light and precise but does without the mechanical feel of the best gearboxes out there. You also get the impression that economy was the main concern for those that picked the six long ratios. Thankfully the engine’s torque compensates for this.

The FR boasts lower and stiffer sports suspension compared with its more mundane siblings. It can feel firm over rougher roads at times but is quite comfortable given the sporting nature of the car. This does help handling though, as there’s masses of grip on offer and it turns in keenly.

It’s still lacking the final bit of tuning needed to make a good-handling car into a great one, though. There’s not the sense of adjustability you get from a Ford Fiesta Black Edition and the steering doesn’t have the same level of feel and feedback.

Step inside, and the upgraded infotainment system with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay and Mirror Link is a welcome addition. It’s easy to use with clear menus and connects to smartphones easily. Improvements to material quality are also welcome although there are still plenty of cheap-feeling plastics.

Should I buy one?

The Ibiza FR with this engine works well as a stepping stone between the cooking models and the more focused Cupra. It might not be as fast as the top-rung variant but it feels plenty brisk enough the vast majority of the time.

Despite this, economy is reasonable while you’ll also save money on tax and insurance. If you are a keen driver, though, you might want a slightly more engaging chassis under you. If that’s the case, the Fiesta Black Edition is still the warm hatch to beat.

Seat Ibiza FR 1.4 EcoTSI 150

Location West Sussex; On sale Now; Price £16,695; Engine 4 cyls, 1395cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 148bhp at 5000rpm; Torque 184lb ft at 1500rpm; Gearbox six-speed manual; Kerb weight 1143kg; 0-62mph 7.6sec; Top speed 137mph; Economy 58.9mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 112g/km, 19%

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Comments
4

7 April 2016
Had a 2008 1.4se with the 85bhp lump. Great car crap engine. Like the sound of this, but there's the completely new car due out end of this year or early next. Think I can wait for the new one. Unless Seat ends up doing some great deals on the run out versions of these.

9 April 2016
A 4 star review from Autocar is about as good as it gets for a non Ford / VW / JLR product! But in all seriousness, if VW's ACT engine can deliver real world efficiency half as good as the ones quoted, then I can't understand why other makers are not using similar technology (OK, I know that a few are). Or maybe they can't do it reliably or cheaply enough?
Incidentally, the car should be called a SEAT (Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo), not Seat as in something to sit on - like VW, not Vw. But maybe I'm being pedantic.

13 April 2016
LP in Brighton wrote:

A 4 star review from Autocar is about as good as it gets for a non Ford / VW / JLR product! But in all seriousness, if VW's ACT engine can deliver real world efficiency half as good as the ones quoted, then I can't understand why other makers are not using similar technology (OK, I know that a few are). Or maybe they can't do it reliably or cheaply enough?
Incidentally, the car should be called a SEAT (Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo), not Seat as in something to sit on - like VW, not Vw. But maybe I'm being pedantic.

There's nothing wrong with pedantry. If anyone complains about it it's their own fault for being wrong.

I don't need to put my name here, it's on the left

 

11 April 2016
...hideous inside. So overdue for a total revamp it's untrue

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

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