2014 Seat Ibiza FR Edition review
* Seat Ibiza FR Edition driven in UK * Gets cylinder shut-off technology * On sale now, priced from 15,920...
The new Seat Ibiza FR Edition is designed to be be fast and fun, but frugal too.
There's the choice of a three- or five-door versions, but only one engine: the same 138bhp 1.4 petrol engine found in the Volkswagen Polo Blue GT, which can shut down two of its four cylinders when cruising to save fuel.
That means 0-62mph is dealt with in 7.8sec, and it'll average 60.1mpg while emitting just 109g/km of CO2. That isn't quite as good as the Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost but is still good.
However, while it shares the Polo's clever engine, the Ibiza is nearly £1800 cheaper to buy than the VW, making its closest rivals the Ford Fiesta and new Mini Cooper.
What’s the 2014 Seat Ibiza FR Edition like to drive?
The FR Edition's turbocharged 1.4 gives the car a decent turn of pace.
The engine pulls strongly even from low revs, so never gets bogged down trying to nip through traffic around town, but it's punchy enough at higher speeds so it doesn't feel out of its depth on the motorway. Cross-country blasts are genuinely exciting.
It's a refined engine, too; there's little vibration and it sounds strained only as it nears the redline.
The Ibiza's handling is less impressive. FR Edition models get lowered sports suspension as standard, and while this provides tight body control in corners, the slow, vague steering set-up means the Ibiza never feels as agile as a Ford Fiesta.
FR Edition cars also get 17-inch wheels which, combined with the stiff suspension, do nothing for ride quality. Large bumps thump into the cabin at low speed, and the car never settles at a steady cruise.
There is a fair bit of road noise, too, although wind noise is never a problem even on the motorway.
What’s the 2014 Seat Ibiza FR Edition like inside?
Inside, the FR Edition is marked out from the rest of the Ibiza range by its leather-bound, flat-bottomed steering wheel and heavily bolstered front sports seats.
It also comes with a portable infotainment system that incorporates sat-nav, DAB radio, Bluetooth and a trip computer. It's an easy system to get your head around, but some of the touch-screen buttons are small and fiddly to use, and the Bluetooth connection can be frustratingly intermittent.
Cabin quality is disappointing, because while there are some soft-touch materials higher up on the dash, most of the plastics used feel cheap and look dated.
There's a decent amount of head- and legroom up front and the seats and wheel adjust every which way, although clambering into the back of the three-door model is still a bit of a squeeze.
Once you're in the rear of either model, the raked roofline means headroom is rather limited. The tight rear legroom and blacked-out windows also make this a less-than-comfortable place to spend time.
At least the 292 litres of luggage space is decent, and can be boosted further by folding down the standard 60:40 split-folding rear seats.
Should I buy one?
Those searching a for blend of performance and economy will find the new FR Edition Ibiza makes a lot of sense. It feels fast enough to be fun, offers fuel economy and CO2 emissions that make it a cheap private or company car and it comes well equipped.
As a result, it stands as one of our favourite Ibiza models, but those on a budget should still consider the 1.2 TSI FR. Its engine is similarly punchy, it gets a similiar level of kit, and it costs £1900 less.
At £15,920, the FR Edition is up against the likes of the Ford Fiesta 1.0T Ecoboost 125 Zetec S and the Mini Cooper.
Both the Ford and Mini are sharper to drive and more comfortable on pockmarked British roads, while the Mini's cabin feels a lot better. Both rivals also have lower CO2 emissions, and both officially are more economical. Unfortunately for the Ibiza, they're cheaper, too.
What Car? says…
Seat Ibiza FR Edition 1.4 TSI ACT
Engine size 1.4-litre turbo petrol
Price from £15,920
Torque 184lb ft
Top speed 130mph
Fuel economy 60.1mpg