Road test: SEAT Ibiza FR

Posted on August 18th, 2016 by James Luckhurst

The frisky Ibiza FR is fun to drive, but there’s a distinct lack of finesse.

Road test: SEAT Ibiza FR

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What is it?

The Ibiza has been a mainstay among good value superminis for many years. The FR model is sporty, energetic and laden with gadgetry to help it regain lost market share.

How safe is it?

As with all Ibiza models, the FR has driver and front seat passenger air bags, side air bags, stability control, active front head restraints and emergency brake assist.

Who should buy one?
If you’re looking for something well equipped that’s fun to drive, the Ibiza FR measures up well against the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Renault Clio.

Road test by James Luckhurst 18 August 2016



Road test: SEAT Ibiza FR

It doesn’t seem more than a short time ago (it was the mid 1980s) that we first climbed with excitement into a SEAT Ibiza. A friend had been taken in by the Spanish manufacturer’s collaboration with Porsche, and he loved showing everyone the ‘System Porsche’ inscription on the engine blocks. Pur-lease…
Here we are, 30 years later, staring at a fifth generation chilli red supermini. First impressions are positive, as we remember the very competitive sector in which the Ibiza operates. It looks fun and funky, sharp and streamlined.
However, there is disappointment as soon as we step inside. There’s too much cheap, hard black plastic and our eyes are drawn to the four enormous air vents – one at each end of the fascia with two together in the middle – with their large, unsubtle flaps. On the plus side, there’s plenty of overhead space up front, even for a six-foot driver, although we feel more squeezed together than we would want.
The dashboard layout is minimalist, with two large dials located under a big hood (more cheap black plastic, I’m afraid); the rev counter on the left and the speedometer on the right. We would like to see some effort made into ensuring the speedo is much clearer to read. Having the km/h figures interwoven with the mph looks messy and could, in our opinion, lead to confusion.
On the move, the Ibiza is great fun, frisky, light and responsive. The flat-bottomed, leather-trimmed steering wheel has controls for stereo, hands-free phone and on-board computer. It’s also easily adjustable for rake and reach, via a large lever to the left of the steering column.
Driving the Ibiza brings a smile to the face. The light steering means the whole experience isn’t as rewarding as you get driving the Ford Fiesta. The ride is on the harsh side of firm, not helped by the 16-inch alloys. That’s fine if you’re a youngster looking for fun, because the Ibiza is sure to bring a big grin to your face. Just avoid taking parents in the back.

Road test: SEAT Ibiza FR

It’s easy to sum up the space on offer in the Ibiza: up front it’s excellent; in the rear seats it’s cramped for an adult and in the boot it’s reasonable (though the boot space is not as generous as in our own Skoda Fabia).
Driver and front seat passenger will have no complaints about the headroom and legroom available to them. There’s also a decent array of storage pockets and lockers. However, adults in the rear will feel squashed and squeezed.
The 60:40 rear seat split assists with practicality, but we had issues with the parcel shelf, which felt cheap and flimsy. It hangs from the rear ceiling by two thin cords and slots into plastic couplings on the sides of the car – the whole assembly lacks a sense of quality. The boot itself would be much more practical with a flat floor and a lower loading lip.

Road test: SEAT Ibiza FR

The Ibiza received a five-star safety rating by Euro NCAP when it was tested in 2011. Every model comes with driver and front passenger airbags, front side airbags, active front head restraints, ESC with Emergency Brake Assist and two ISOFIX points. SEAT’s Multi Collision Braking System applies the brakes after a collision to prevent a subsequent impact.

Road test: SEAT Ibiza FR

The Ibiza cabin layout appears spartan. The most basic model is frugal on goodies, with tinted windows, electric front windows, 12 volt power supply in the front console, USB port and emergency tyre repair kit (ie no spare wheel). The FR adds electric folding door mirrors, twin exhaust pipes, flat-bottomed steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, sports suspension and 16-inch alloys.


Road test: SEAT Ibiza FR

The most basic 1.0-litre S A/C version costs £12,210 on the road. The FR model we tested costs £16,695; extras such as metallic paint (£530), rear parking sensors (£220), SEAT sound system £155), climate control (£320) and space saver spare wheel (£100) conspire to push the OTR price well above £18,000. CO2 emissions of 112g/km put the Ibiza FR in Band C for VED, with a claimed 58.9mpg fuel economy.

The frisky Ibiza FR is fun to drive, but there’s a distinct lack of finesse.

Price: £18,240 as tested
Performance: 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds
Economy: 58.9mpg combined
Insurance: Group 23
Tax: Band C (£30)

Figures for the SEAT Ibiza FR Technology 1.4 EcoTSI PS 6-speed manual