Seat Ibiza FR car review
- We like...Punchy engine
- We don't...Light steering
Should quick cars need the full, look-at-me, I’m a GT, dress-up kit. No? We don’t think so either. That’s one reason for us to feel good about the Seat Ibiza FR. While its alloy wheels are an inch or two bigger than standard and there’s a touch of body kit around its front and rear, the tweaking stops there. Only a couple of ‘FR’ body badges and twin exhausts otherwise mark it out from regular Ibizas.
This model sits in the line-up one below the Ibiza Cupra. But for us the Cupra is blunted as a performance car because it hasn’t a manual gearbox. You get a twin-clutch auto gearbox as standard. Can the FR do what the Cupra doesn’t? Well it has a diesel engine.
But if you imagine that that ruins its chances as a sports hatchback, think twice. Seat has crammed in the 141bhp, 2.0-litre unit that powers umpteen cars from its sister brands Volkswagen, Skoda and Audi – Golfs, Passats and A3s among ‘em. It’s a cracker of an engine that makes a quick car of a Golf or an A3. Pop it into a car that’s a size class smaller as you’ve here and it’s a little whizzer. Stick your toe down and it’ll make a rumble but it’ll scoot off like a cat caught eating the Sunday roast. In-gear acceleration actually beats the Ibiza Cupra’s. Such is the flexible nature of this motor, though, that it’ll also edge soberly around town, never once flouting the speed limit.
And, driven sensibly, it is good for 47.1mpg overall, while CO2 emissions are low at 123g/km, keeping road tax and company car tax bills low.
Can it cut it, though, as a properly sporty car? Not quite. Like all Ibizas, it changes direction quickly and rides with a firmness that stays the right side of comfortable. But its steering isn’t good enough – it’s too light and it lacks fine response and feel.
What’s more, for its price the cabin doesn’t look and feel special enough. The wheel is a proper flat-bottomed, leather-wrapped sporting item, while the gear-shift knob looks the part, too. But, apart from mildly sportified, bolstered front chairs, inside it’s little different from any Ibiza that’s thousands of pounds cheaper.
Measure it against a top-line Citroen DS3 (which at time of writing is cheaper) or a Mini Cooper and it doesn’t look so much for your money.
Otherwise, it is standard Ibiza, which means a roomy cabin that, if you opt for the five-door version, will comfortably accommodate five, while the boot is good sized. If you need more space for a garden centre visit or a tip run, just drop the rear seat backs.
Should you buy one? If a big, punchy diesel engine in a small car is a recipe that works for you, then yes, definitely. But we’d suggest that you look across what else you can get and compare carefully before reaching for your bank debit card.
- Engines2.0-litre diesel
- 0-60 mph8.3secs
- Insurance groups8E
Motors.co.uk value verdict: