Road Test by Mark Slack: SEAT Ibiza FR

Road Test by Mark Slack: SEAT Ibiza FR. Image - Seat

If you’re a petrolhead, or possibly now an EV fanatic, then you want your car to be interesting, stylish and drive with a fun element that you, as a driver, can enjoy. Cover your ears but there are people who view cars as mere transport. They are there to perform a function, be practical and move their owner and family from home to office via school or other activities.

SEAT’s Ibiza looks like car that would fall into this category, but beneath the sharp styling is a car that provides some welcome surprises. Despite being a smaller car, it does well for interior space and for a younger family certainly wouldn’t cause too much compromise. As with all VAG products there’s a feeling of quality and solidity and while the interior doesn’t do much to inflame your stylistic senses it’s practical and easy to live with on a daily basis.

In FR trim, the sporty version, there’s stiffer suspension that pays dividends on the handling front and it’s allied to a super 95 PS 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine. The handling is precise and predictable with the 1.0-litre engine’s three cylinders producing a nicely sporting note under acceleration. Allied to a slick 5-speed manual gearbox it makes for an unexpectedly entertaining drive given its rather discreet looks.

Prices start from a very reasonable €20,599/£17,755 with a single-engine choice but in differing power outputs, three transmission options and six trim levels, plus a good level of equipment it makes a sensible buy for both practical and enthusiastic drivers. In FR trim you get LED lights, powered heated, folding and adjustable door mirrors, dual-zone climate, auto-dimming rear view mirror, auto lights and wipers, cruise control, navigation with Apple Car Play and Android Auto.

Although the performance figures from the 95 PS engine are not earth-shattering this belies the fun that can be had from the Ibiza. Reaching the benchmark 100kph/62 mph in a whisker under 11 seconds the FR is more than capable of keeping up with modern traffic and nipping past slower-moving vehicles. However, it’s on the handling front where the FR really shines.  On rougher roads the sports suspension proves more than capable of soaking up the bumps and the combination of the sports suspension and peppy engine mean it really is a delight and great fun on cross-country roads.

While the Ibiza may be somewhat discreet on the styling front it hides a surprisingly fun drive for such a mainstream car.

Facts at a Glance

Model: SEAT Ibiza FR

Prices: €23,885/£20,585

Engine: 1.0-litre turbocharged 3-cylinder turbocharged petrol developing 95PS

Gears: 5-speed manual

Performance: 0-100 kph (62 mph) 10.9 secs

Maximum Speed Petrol 186 kph (116 mph)

Economy: Petrol 4.5 l/100km (51.4 mpg) WLTP

Emissions: 124 g/km WLTP

Model tested was UK-specification and equipment levels and prices may vary in other markets.

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