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Car Review: SEAT Ibiza FR

The sporty SEAT Ibiza FR mixes good looks with solid performance and may be the perfect car for the young professional, writes Tim Barnes-Clay.

The SEAT Ibiza is one of the best-selling models in its segment across Europe.

The sporty SEAT Ibiza FR, on test here, has a firm ride and gives you a numb backside, but everything else is hard to fault and it offers impressive performance at every turn.

The Spanish-made motor has a vibe of youth about it.

Indeed, the average age of Ibiza buyers remains easily the youngest in its market category, underlining the fact that SEAT is truly young spirited.

Nevertheless it's far from being a boy racer car.

It has too much quality oozing from its Volkswagen underpinnings to ever be accused of that.

A sophisticated feel

Inside, the solid thunk of the doors when you close them and the sophisticated feel of the leather steering wheel instantly signal that you’re in a fully-grown, well-made, car.

The focus, however, always remains on functionality – the dashboard with its lucid display is one example, the large glove compartment another.

The drive in the high-range FR model is engaging and pace is in ready supply from the commanding two-litre turbo diesel engine packed like a tin of sardines under the bonnet.

Just as progressive as the powerplant in the Ibiza is the transmission - a perfectly spaced six-speed manual gearbox with a very slick action.

The seats are moulded in a very sporty, hip-hugging way, but they do have a practical purpose.

They hold you firmly in position should you decide to push the SEAT to its limits around corners. 

And with its squat, purposeful stance, the Ibiza is more than capable of gluing itself to the road, especially when equipped with low-profile tyres on 17 inch rims.

A sporty and safe ride

But the handling characteristics are as sporty as they are safe.

The precise steering and the perfectly tuned stability control, as well as the electronic differential lock, deliver safety even in difficult driving conditions. 

A powerful anti-lock braking system is a case in point. 

The whole look of the car is pleasingly aggressive and is in keeping with the naughtiness that can be had behind the SEAT Ibiza FR's wheel.

For instance, from the side, the Ibiza appears like a precisely hewn and finely honed sculpture on wheels.

And, from the front, intense LED running lights twinkle like stars in the night sky, while at the rear the taillights, also available with LEDs, stand out like red lasers.

But the car isn't just about form and driving dynamics – it has a fuel-efficient engine and a relatively convenient cabin for a small car.

Plenty of space for passengers

You can shoehorn two adult passengers into the rear and your front seat passenger will have more than enough room to stretch out their legs.

The SEAT's small boot isn't going to win any prizes for gobbling up everything but the kitchen sink.

A couple of suitcases are probably more realistic, but there's always the convenient split/folding rear bench to extend luggage space.

The rigid ride goes hand in hand with the energetic orientation of the Ibiza, so in some ways you can forgive the FR when it crashes and bangs over Britain's rather pothole-ridden roads.

A little bit more cushioning on the seats wouldn't go amiss though.

SEAT Ibiza FR: Pros & cons

  • Sporty √
  • Good looking √
  • Great drive √
  • Efficient √
  • Hard ride X
  • Small boot X

SEAT Ibiza FR: Fast facts

  • Max speed: 130 mph
  • 0-62 mph: 8.2 secs
  • Combined mpg: 60.1
  • Engine: 1968cc 4 cylinder 16 valve turbo diesel
  • Max. power (bhp): 141 at 4200 rpm
  • Max. torque (lb/ft): 236 at 1750 rpm
  • CO2: 123 g/km
  • Price: £17,445

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Tim Barnes-Clay

Leon Poultney

Tim is an experienced motoring writer with a background in radio and TV journalism. He puts his pedal to the metal each week with his must-read car reviews.

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