SEAT Ibiza FR DSG Reviewed by Rob McSorley (DriverVIBE.com)
Since parent company Volkswagen took the reigns at SEAT in 1990 it has strived to carve the Spanish brand a neat section of the market with products that are more daring and sporty than Skodas or Volkswagens. SEAT could be described then as the wild child of the family, perhaps the unruly teenager that likes to have far too much fun.
SEAT Ibiza FR DSG Reviewed by Rob McSorley (DriverVIBE.com)
Visually it packs a real punch. Even in base trim it
is well designed and angled towards the driver with
manages to look far sportier than most of its
its buttons grouped together for ease of use. The
rivals, clearly the influence of ex Lamborghini
leather seats fitted are very comfortable and well
The Ibiza has been SEAT’s best-selling model for a very long time,
designer Luc Donckerwolke who is responsible for
contoured for enthusiastic driving with red
few realise that its been about for nearly 30 years and is now in its
the Ibiza's cracking design. The sheet metal
stitching which extends to the DSG gear shifter.
fourth generation. Earlier this year the Polo-based hatch received
appears taught with sharp character lines running
There are also racy looking dials and plenty of
a thorough reworking to keep it fresh in the face of increased
from the headlights dropping off towards the rear
storage spaces for oddments.
opposition. Until the new Cupra (Cup Racing) comes along the
where another starts sweeping around the back
sportiest model is the FR (Formula Racing) which as of 2012 is
creating broad shoulders.
available in a number of body styles and power outputs. We test the most potent petrol model to find out if it’s any good.
Cabin space is befitting of the Coupe name with its low roof line which reduces the amount of space in
The FR we are testing only adds to the sporting
the back for taller passengers. Despite front seats
character with its wide 17" wheels, aggressive front
that pivot and slide forward a long way to ease
bumper and subtle rear diffuser with twin tailpipes.
access once in the back legroom is severely
The SC, or Sport Coupe has a much lower roof line
restricted, a middle seat belt is also very optimistic.
and smaller rear overhang that accentuates the shape further and looks particularly menacing in
Getting comfortable in the front is easy with plenty
the Monsoon Grey metallic finish of our car.
of seat adjustment and a two-way adjustable steering column. The passenger seat in our car also
The recent revisions focusing mainly on the front
adjusts for height too. Space is also good although
end have sorted out some of the awkward lines
the passenger will find the dashboard juts out
that detracted from the previous cars good looks;
quite a bit meaning the seat needs to be pushed
it now has aggressive dark angular headlights with
further back than in similar cars.
integrated led daytime running lights and a wider grill. The rear also received new light clusters with
The FR comes very well equipped for the task in
an arrow shaped lighting pattern.
hand with standard fit Cruise control, LED rear light clusters, Sports suspension, ESP, 16” alloy wheels
From the driver’s seat it’s easy to tell that you are
(optional 17” on our car), Digital air conditioning,
sat in one of the more special models. The three-
Electric/heated/power fold mirrors, Portable
spoke, flat bottomed steering wheel looks great
TomTom sat nav and best of all an XDS electronic
with its FR badging as do the new materials used
which feel classier than ever. The dashboard itself
Intended to be a milder warm hatch compared to
suspension, initial damping is excellent dealing with
the 180 bhp Cupra (that’s on its way) you could be
undulations in the road with ease. Larger road
thinking the FR will fail to excite in the same way.
imperfections highlight the cars stiffer spring rates
You would be wrong. It’s actually powered by the
but it never loses composure always feeling taught
same 1.4 litre TSi engine that is not only has a turbo
but is also supercharger. It produces 30 bhp less than the Cupra but at 150 bhp is still plenty
As a result the Ibiza really handles with well
contained body movements and a great feeling of fluidity through any series of corners. Turn-in is also
Thanks to the ultra-high-tech 7-speed DSG (dual
crisp with steering that feels suitably meaty during
clutch) gearbox (the only transmission available)
cornering. Keen drivers will however find
acceleration is rapid with 60mpg reached in just 7.6
themselves wanting more from the steering it terms
seconds. The transmissions ability to change gear
of feel but it’s almost there.
so quickly means that it feels much quicker. Power is also readily available thanks to the thoughtful
Front end grip feels endless thanks to the XDS
changes, it’s a gearbox that always selects the right
electronic differential lock which juggles power
gear at the right time. Handily there is also the
between the front wheels. Only when pushed really
option of Sport Mode which makes the most of the
hard do the limits of the chassis become obvious as
engines rev-happy nature for even quicker progress.
the rear loses grip but everything is kept nicely in
Drivers who want more control can also swap cogs
check by the standard fit stability program.
manually by pushing the shifted forward or backwards but there is little benefit to doing this
With so much power on offer from what seems like
The FR rides surprisingly well considering its Sports
a small 1390cc engine most wouldn't expect low running costs but the Ibiza delivers on that front also. Fuel economy is nothing short of outstanding at 47.9mph combined; we managed a pretty decent 42mpg whilst with us. Emissions are also competitive at 139g/km which equates to £110 per year in road tax. In our eyes the FR is also well priced at £15,875 on the road considering the amount of standard equipment including the truly brilliant DSG Gearbox.
TECH DATA Price as tested: £15,875 Engine: 1.4 16v 150bhp - 0-62mph: 7.6secs - Maximum Speed: 132mph Economy: 37.7mpg (urban) –55.4mpg (extra-urban), 47.9mpg (combined) - Emissions: 139g/km (Band E) - VED (12 months): £110 Dimensions: Length: 4066mm - Width: 1693mm - Height: 1424mm - Wheelbase: 2469mm *data from Seat UK
DRIVERVIBE VERDICT The Ibiza FR is a truly exciting little hatchback. In 1.4 TSi 150bhp form it offers the kind of acceleration you would expect from warm hatch and thanks to the superb 7-speed DSG gearbox the power on offer is always ready and waiting. Despite the performance running costs are low but there is still plenty of fun to be had. The handling although not as pin sharp as some rivals is still deeply impressive. We wish the steering had a little more feel but otherwise there is little to fault on the road. There will however always be purists that will yearn for a manual gearbox for the ultimate experience. Some rivals offer more interior space for rear passengers and a bigger boot but none can turn heads like the Ibiza. The FR is a high quality, fun hatchback that certainly makes you question the purpose of the marginally faster Cupra model that will be launched in the coming months.
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Published on Jan 30, 2013
Since parent company Volkswagen took the reigns at SEAT in 1990 it has strived to carve the Spanish brand a neat section of the market with...