SEAT Ibiza FR 1.0 MPI
By Bill McCarthy
SEAT has always been proud of being known as the sporty arm of the VW empire, with sharp, dynamic design and handling across the range.
And that’s not to mention its appeal to a younger car buying public.
A 16-year-old relative looking to buy his first car in about 18 months time took a shine to this Ibiza modell and said it’s just the car he would want.
That’s not surprising since the five-door supermini has retained its place as the car of choice for first-time drivers in a magazine survey.
Supermini it may be, but space in the Ibiza has been maximised with a surprising amount of legroom for all occupants.
There are a number of reasons for it being a favourite among first-timers, these include excellent economy, low insurance and low taxation, plus dynamic handling and comprehensive safety features.
Built on the VW Group MQB modular platform SEAT became the first manufacturer in the group to deploy this architecture, which improves dynamic performance and technology.
There are six trim versions including the FR driven here. It does look good. Sporty and chic with sharp angles and creases, triangular headlight cluster with LED daytime running lights.
It also features FR badging, twin exhaust outlets, tinted rear glass and very smart alloy wheels. Metallic paint is a no-cost option. The interior mirrors this theme, chic and sporty, yet functional and intuitive.
The colourful interior has a high quality finish to fixtures and fitting and part-soft touch plastics finish. The FR features a sportier black cloth with red highlighting. This model also has two colour options for the ambient interior LED lighting.
Centre piece is the eight-inch touchscreen which controls the navigation system with full-colour, voice control, proximity sensor and 3D mapping. The clever smartphone connectivity includes MirrorLink, Android Auto and Apple Car Play for hands-free operation while on the move.
All controls are legible, logically placed and switchgear feels sturdy and robust. It comes with a choice of three petrol engines including the one litre, three cylinder engine mated with five-speed manual here. The sporty look is not matched by sporty performance from the 90ps engine designed more for economy than blistering pace with around 50mpg achievable and low CO2 emissions.
It proved surprisingly spritely off the mark, but hitting the 60mph mark take nearly 15 seconds as it runs out of puff.
Once up to speed however, it performs more than adequately on the motorway or cruising on dual carriageways.
In addition, SEAT Drive Profile allows the driver to select between Normal, Sport and Eco modes, plus a fourth Individual setting that lets them combine their preferred elements from the other three. Each mode adapts the responsiveness of the steering, throttle and gearbox to suit different driving preferences.
As a five-door hatchback, it is practical. Loadspace is excellent with a spacious 355 litres increasing to 1,165 litres when you fold the rear seats, via a low loading boot lip.
For peace of mind, particularly with younger driver, the Ibiza as a Euro NCAp five star safety rating.
Five-star safety as standard includes full complement of airbags, and active safety features usually found on larger cars, like front assist, hill hold control and multi-collision brake fitted to all versions.
SEAT Ibiza FR 1.0 MPI
Mechanical: 80ps, 998cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox
Max speed: 106mph
0-62mph: 14.7 seconds
Combined mpg: 47-50.1
Insurance group: 5
CO2 emissions: 107g/kmBiK rating: 22%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles