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DriverVIBE

VERDICT

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

differential lock.

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

and controlled.

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

powerful.

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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SEAT Ibiza FR DriverVIBE Review  

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...