Seat Ibiza long-term test review: report 2

The Seat Ibiza is one of our favourite small hatchbacks, but just how deep do its talents run? We're living with one to find out...

Seat Ibiza 2020 rear cornering

The car Seat Ibiza 1.0 TSI 95 FR Run by Chris Haining, digital reviews editor

Why it’s here To find out if a small, economical car can cut it as an all-rounder, for weekend pleasure and motorway commuting alike.

Needs to Sip petrol, absorb long journeys without stress, come alive on a country road.

Miles 1,760 List price £19,185 Target Price £16,722 Price as tested £19,980 Test economy 52.4mpg Official economy 51.4mpg

23 October 2020 – Taking the rough with the smooth

Last time around, I was pondering the question “is the Seat Ibiza ‘fun’?”. Well, I’m delighted to report that yes, it is. 

In FR trim, the Ibiza has tantalisingly sporty looks but is actually far from a hot hatch; it merely occupies a slightly racy middle step on the Ibiza’s trim level ladder. Nevertheless, its character is defined by its engine, wheels and suspension. On a twisty road, it provides as lively a steer as I could ask for from a small, economical car. Its ‘sports’ suspension is firmly sprung and its tyres – 215mm in section – are wider than you’ll find on a Mazda MX-5 sports car. All the better for remaining stoically upright in corners, and gripping tenaciously after a crisp initial turn-in.

Seat Ibiza FR long-termer

And since I seldom need to scrub off speed between corners, the FR’s ability to retain momentum means its 94bhp is more than enough for a good time. Yes, there are moments when a little more power would be nice, but like that belly-threatening extra slice of cake, I’m better off without it in the long run. 

When flitting between one bend and the next with a broad grin on my face, though, it’s easy to overlook the cost of all this grip and poise. Straighten out the road and turn the journey into one of work rather than pleasure and it’s enough to have me wondering if FR was actually the right trim level to go for.  

Seat Ibiza FR long-termer Chris Haining driving

The ride is generally on the acceptable side of hard, but the suspension just can’t quite prevent the most vicious of the M25’s potholes and expansion joints sending shocks through my spine, and I wince a bit at the worst of them. Smooth stretches of Tarmac come as a welcome relief, but offer no respite from the white noise of tyre roar that never goes away. I suspect that the softer springs and narrower tyres of SE Technology trim would be rather more soothing, and that the bigger 18in wheels and less shock-absorbent tyres of the FR Sport would have had me frowning still harder.

But, the traffic thins towards the end of my homeward journey and my smile begins to return as the corners grow more frequent. The FR doesn’t exactly let me have my cake and eat it when it comes to balancing fun and comfort, but perhaps a diet won’t do me any harm.

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