A HOT hatch with a cool image is the latest addition to SEAT’s Ibiza line up.
The two-litre diesel Ibiza FR is designed to offer the best of both worlds with above average performance and frugal economy.
It also ticks all the boxes for the Spanish car maker’s mission statement of creating cars which are fun.
The sharply styled Ibiza - a creation of former Lamborghini designer Luc Donckerwolke – has already built a reputation for itself and put SEAT in a niche of its own as a brand targeting younger drivers.
The FR is the sporty version of the Ibiza and unlike the petrol-engined model the diesel is available in both three and five door body styles pitting the car against the likes of more powerful versions of the Ford Fiesta, the Renault Clio and even the Audi A3.
But the new Ibiza FR 2.0 TDI CR is pushing the boundaries by reducing CO2 emissions to 123g/km setting a new standard for mid-range performance hatchbacks.
The engine – sourced from VW – develops 143bhp and in a car the size of the Ibiza it delivers a hefty punch. As SEAT is quick to point out there is more torque from this car than in some versions of the Porsche Cayman or the Mercedes SL 300.
Top speed is a claimed 130mph while the 0 to 60mph acceleration time is a shade over eight seconds yet the car is set up to deliver average fuel economy of 60.1mpg.
And that’s a figure which is easily attainable with sensible driving – and bettered if you put your mind to it without having to rein in too much of the Ibiza’s get up and go.
It’s an impressive mixture and the Ibiza FR handles as sweetly as any sporty hatch should. It is fitted with SEAT’s XDS traction system which acts like an electronic limited slip differential making it unusually nimble when cornering.
Sports seats and a flat bottomed steering wheel are becoming de rigueur in cars of this ilk and not only do they look the part on the Ibiza they feel good too.
The diesel is available only with a six-speed manual gearbox and is priced from £16,430 for the three-door and £16,840 for the five-door.
That’s almost £1,000 more than the 1.4-litre boosted petrol engined FR which uses a seven speed semi-automatic DSG box.
On paper the 1.4 is slightly quicker but there is a 15mpg difference between the two and with today’s fuel prices that’s telling. For private drivers, the diesel is also tax free in its first year and also slightly cheaper to insure.
On the road the diesel is surprisingly quiet – perhaps a little too refined for a hot hatch – but it definitely looks the part with honeycomb grilles, twin exhausts and some subtle body kit – not to mention the availability of some very bright paint finishes.
Inside it’s neat and modern with enough FR logos dotted around the cockpit to have the desired effect of feeling slightly special. A classy touch is a shiny black strip across the top of the instrument cowl.
As well as traction and stability controls, the FR comes with climate control, a tyre pressure monitoring system, cruise control and a hill start function.
On the five door model the back is relatively roomy while luggage space at almost 300 litres (847 with the rear seats folded) is slightly above average.
Realistically the only extras needed are a Bluetooth phone link and a TomTom nav system which on the Ibiza is attached to a purpose-built dashboard mount not just stuck on the windscreen.
For fun driving there’s not a lot lacking with the diesel FR. It’s well equipped, nicely balanced and, in a car of this size, almost the perfect blend of power and economy.