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Engine options, top speed, acceleration and refinement

Esteem has been accumulating fast for the turbocharged versions of the VW Group’s parsimonious three-pot petrol engines.

The 89bhp format turned the buttoned-down Volkswagen Up into a quasi-hoot and the 113bhp variant had a great deal to do with the Ibiza FR toppling the new Fiesta a few weeks ago in our group test.

Stability bias is obvious in the shallower corners but it still feels very capably balanced if you come off the throttle at the critical moment

The 94bhp tested here isn’t perhaps quite as compelling as in those two showings, yet its virtues are palpably many. Prime among them is not so much the respectable peak output, but rather the 129lb ft conjured up at the opposite end of the rev counter.

The twist isn’t merely amenable or likeable – although plainly it is both – but crucial. Without its placid, perceptible swell at low crank speeds, the engine’s usability would be utterly overwhelmed by the incredibly long-winded ratios of the five-speed manual gearbox.

As it is, second gear is easily game for the national limit and third almost cracks 100mph – spacing that would traditionally have had such a small-capacity unit dithering.

But thanks to the turbocharger’s endeavour and the low kerb weight, the Ibiza is unimpeachably linear, taking practically the same time to get from 30mph to 50mph in fourth as from 50mph to 70mph, for example.

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The result is not precisely brisk, but certainly there’s sufficient enthusiasm to make the car feel charitably receptive to prods of the accelerator no matter which gear you’re in. It’s a mild-mannered vitality that translates into remarkably stress-free progress – a sentiment augmented not only by the familiar effervescence of the gearchange but also by the all-round refinement of the three-pot.

Indeed, the motor is so unobtrusive and its transmission ratios so long that it’s easy to find yourself absent-mindedly sauntering down motorways in third gear.

Even with that tendency, we averaged 44.9mpg – shy of Seat’s combined claim of 60.1mpg, although a good indication that 50mpg-plus ought to be easily achievable if you put your mind to it.