From £9,940
Oil-burning Ibiza FR offers attractive mix of pace, refinement and cost-effectiveness

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

Seat Ibiza FR TDi

What is it?

The latest addition to Seat’s Ibiza supermini range, and one that offers both sense and sensation: the Ibiza FR TDi.

Coming to UK showrooms this month, this 141bhp TDi version of the Ibiza is a 130mph warm hatch capable of 62mph in a whisker over eight seconds, and of bettering 60mpg. This car emits just 119g/km of CO2, so it’s just £35 a year to tax, and for the first time for an FR Ibiza, it’s available as a five door.

This car succeeds the old 128bhp Ibiza FR TDi. It uses the VW Group’s current 2.0-litre diesel engine, but has a lighter, larger capacity intercooler than the last car, and together with common rail injection, that makes it much more refined on the run than its immediate forebear.

Seat has fitted stiffer, shorter springs than standard to this car; it rides 15mm lower, and has a stiffer anti-roll bar too. This Ibiza is also the only one with its battery in the boot, to the improvement of weight distribution, and is the only hot Ibiza available with a manual gearbox.

What’s it like?

It’s certainly handsome, trendy-looking and nicely turned out inside. Seat’s FR treatment adds FR logos on the gearlever and steering wheel, as well as a smattering of carbon-effect trim, some comfy yet supportive leather sports seats, and extra standard specification such as cruise and climate control, and a ‘limited slip differential’-effect electronic traction management program called XDS.

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And from behind the wheel it’s clear that this Ibiza FR has one of Seat’s better sports chassis, as well as an excellent driving position. On Spanish roads it feels taut but not harsh (although UK surfaces may not suit it as well) and maintains good body control even at very high speeds.

It steers well too – fluently and quickly, with good weight and feel – and certainly has enough in-gear pace to make you sit up and take notice.

When it comes to quickening your pulse, diesel-powered warm options like this one still seem the poorer cousins of petrol ones; winding them up just isn’t as entertaining as it might be. Truth be told, this feels like a small car that’s had a fairly refined but ordinary 2.0-litre diesel engine shoehorned under the bonnet, which is exactly what it is.

Unfortunately, that will leave many fast hatch fans wanting a bit more character from this car’s powertrain.

Perhaps if it had been fitted with the VW Group’s 168bhp diesel motor, we’d be more impressed with this car’s sporting credentials, but it’s unlikely. The only really sporting four-cylinder diesel engine anyone makes at the moment is BMW’s twin-turbo as fitted to the 123d. More’s the pity. And, just for the record, Seat says there will be no new Ibiza Cupra diesel; the last one was a bit of sales flop, apparently.

Should I buy one?

Even if it’s not the greatest driver’s car, this is a smart, well-equipped and desirable supermini, a punchy motorway performer, would be decent enough to drive down a favourite backroad, and would make an attractive fleet option.

It may lack a bit of sparkle under the bonnet, but to many, this car’s economy and emissions performance, as well as its commendable straight line shove, will be persuasive enough to outweigh that. 80 per cent of all of the last Ibiza FRs sold throughout Europe were diesels, after all.

So if you’re looking for a peppy hatch to buy with your head more than your heart, give this one serious consideration.

Join the debate


5 February 2010

A nice car with a good engine and nice to hear of relocating the battery to reduce front end weight just like BMW have been doing for years!!

But it is far too expensive for £150 more you can have the much more powerful Cupra in DSG automatic form. It shows how costly the new VAG derv engine must be to produce compared to the old PD lump!!! Be interesting to see how much people really love diesel to shell out the extra over the petrol FR??????

5 February 2010

[quote Autocar]Perhaps if it had been fitted with the VW Group’s 168bhp diesel motor, we’d be more impressed with this car’s sporting credentials, but it’s unlikely.[/quote]You would never get the engine from the Leon FR fitted to the Ibiza FR, in the same way you'd never expect Corsa and Astra VXR or Renaultsport Clio and Megane to share an engine. There has to be some hierarchy...

Even with "just" 143PS this is pretty much the hottest diesel in the segment?

5 February 2010

Having had 3 years with a Fabia VRs, this is now the closest replacement car I could buy, and I'm sure it will good and similar to my Fabia to drive.

However, despite really liking my VRs and being highly impressed with it as on overall ownership proposition, I'd still rather have the petrol TFSi engine, but with MANUAL GEARBOX.

5 February 2010

i really hope they do see sense and ditch the dsg box - or have it as a cost option. I like manual - and its a sad day when the hottest manual ibiza is a diesel. Although the figures are impressive - I only do 7000 miles a year - so most diesels aren't worth the extra over petrol!

5 February 2010

Quite like the look of this, a real pocket rocket yet only £35 tax and 60 miles to the gallon. Also its good they have given it the 6-speed manual, rather than making DSG mandatory...

Good effort by SEAT, lets hope VW, Skoda and Audi follow and offer the 2.0 TDI in the Polo, Fabia and A1.

6 February 2010

Hmmmm at £1.10 a litre and 15 mpg less I would say that you had to really really love the petrol engine and I for one prefer to shift my own gears anyway no dsg ta!

if you do say 7000 miles a year (coincidence that eh!) you would use 116 gallons of diesel or 520 litres at £1.10 a litre or £572. the petrol would use 156 gallons of petrol or 698 litres at £1.08 a litre or £753.84 or £180 a year so not that savings for lower mileages.

Of course depreciation is the largest expense and it is possible if not likely that the diesel will be worth more. if depreciation is the same a three year old diesel might be better but if the diesel is worth more buy the petrol !

7 February 2010

"just for the record, Seat says there will be no new Ibiza Cupra diesel"

Would this be the same people at Seat who said at the launch of the latest Leon Cupra that there would be no Leon Cupra 'R' model...?

7 February 2010

Quite agree too expensive, my Fabia VRS was £12600 in sep 06, at the right price this would be a suitable replacement !

8 February 2010

[quote njtink]Quite agree too expensive, my Fabia VRS was £12600 in sep 06, at the right price this would be a suitable replacement ![/quote]

I agree it's a fairly large jump, but I think you'd struggle to find a car anywhere on the market today within £1000 of it's 2006 price. Just look at all the articles on Ford price increases for a start.

9 February 2010

I've not driven it, but I can't understand Autocar's lack of enthusiasm here. Of course it would go faster with the 168bhp motor, but it would also cost more and crucially it would exceed the 120gm/km tax threshold. As it stands, I can't think of any other Band C car which offers anything close to this performance, let alone for £16,500. It's going to make the Honda CR-Z look distinctly feeble, as well as expensive. OK, I know that the saving in VED rate is small, but I am sure this will grow in the future and, for me at least, there is a real feel-good factor with owning a low CO2 car, especially one with this kind of get-up-and-go. Well done Seat!


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