ROAD TEST REPORT AND REVIEW: SEAT Ibiza 1.4 150 FR
With potent performance in a stylish little car, DAVID HOOPER says fun comes as standard in the Ibiza FR.
WHEN it comes to attractive styling, few do a better job than Spanish carmaker SEAT, and this sporty little number comes with the get-up-and-go performance to match its youthful good looks.
One of the more vibrant brands, SEAT’s fun attitude to the way it goes about marketing its range of cars has won it a lot of fans in the younger age groups of buyers who are looking for a quality car, but at a sensible price.
That’s exactly what the current range provides, none more so than its Ibiza line-up, the very name of which conjures up a party atmosphere for anyone who has ever stepped foot on the Balearic Islands, lying 90km off the east coast of Spain in the sun-drenched Med.
The four-wheeled Ibiza is the company’s most popular model in the range, and comes with three or five doors and even offers an estate variant, it calls the ST.
Proudly sporting the FR badge, the model I’ve been driving will put a smile on your face even if the weather isn’t as sunny as the place it’s named after, thanks to a lively 1.4-litre engine, punching out an impressive 150PS – and if you fancy a small estate with a sporting character, you can now have an ST model in FR trim as well.
Customers have a choice of economical petrol and diesel engines in the Ibiza, but the sporting FR model brings endearingly lively performance to the party, despatching the benchmark 0-62mph sprint in an impressive 7.6 seconds on its way to a potential top speed of 132mph.
The ride is quite firm, so you might spill your Sangria, but its handling is pin sharp with accurate feedback from steering inputs making it lots of fun to drive quickly on your favourite roads. Yet, it is still capable of returning 47.9mpg on the combined cycle, emitting 139g/km of C02 in the process, which makes it an affordable little hot hatch to live with.
The car I tested was fitted with a 7-speed DSG gearbox, which although quick shifting once on the move, did tend to snatch a bit at times, particularly from low speed getaways, reinforcing my personal preference for manual gearboxes, especially on sporty models like this.
Outside, you get the FR badging, twin exhaust pipes and LED rear lights. Inside, there are more FR badges and comfortable sports seats. There’s room for five with a bit of a squeeze, although getting in and out of the back isn’t the easiest thing to do for people of a certain age, but there is a good decent boot for this size of car, at 284 litres and of course, you can always fold down the rear seats should you need more space.
The dashboard looks good, and comes with red illumination as standard, but this test car was fitted with some choice optional extras, boosting the price a few thousand pounds over the standard car’s £15,875, but making it a very nice little car.
If you can’t afford all of the extras, I thought the 17in Tagus alloy wheels were worth the money at £150, and I loved the panoramic glass sunroof, but at £490 it isn’t cheap. Another £550 adds the Technology Pack which gives you cruise control, a light sensor, rain-sensing wipers, an auto-dimming rear view mirror and electric folding door mirrors, while the Bluetooth communications pack at £410 adds handsfree phone and iPod integration, something I would have thought would be a must-have for a younger audience these days.
The leather seats, with their distinctive stitching were another nice finishing touch, but at £905 could be stretching the budget a bit, so if you fancy buying an Ibiza of your own, you’ll have to carefully consider which options to tick on the order form, or the price soon starts to climb if you get a bit carried away.
With that note of caution in mind, I doubt anyone would be disappointed with an Ibiza FR. It’s good looking, it’s fast, it’s fun and you can run one for sensible money.
If you don’t want to spend quite so much, have a look at the excellent Suzuki Swift Sport, or with a bigger budget, one of the sportier Mini models.
THE VITAL STATISTICS
MODEL: SEAT Ibiza 1.4 150 FR.
SEAT IBIZA RANGE: From E 1.2 12v 3dr (£9,995) to FR 2.0 TDI CR 3dr (£16,340).
ENGINE: 1390cc, 150PS four-cylinder petrol engine, driving front wheels through 7-speed DSG gearbox.
Top speed 132mph.
0-62mph in 7.6 secs.
Fuel tank: 45 litres.
3 years/60,000 miles.
• All data correct at time of publication.