SEAT Ibiza FR review

We review the updated-for-2012 SEAT Ibiza FR in 1.4 TSI DSG trim. Can it compete with the best hot superminis?

Evo rating
Price
from £15,875
  • Strong engine, smart styling, good value
  • Rivals are more rewarding to drive

What is it? The SEAT Ibiza FR is updated for 2012, as the Ibiza range gets a mid-life refresh. Changes are pretty subtle, though – sharper styled headlights and bumpers, new interior bits – and many models are now a little bit cheaper. This FR 1.4 TSI DSG costs from £15,875. Technical highlights? The top-spec petrol FR gets the VW group’s twin-charged 1.4-litre TSI engine, which uses both super- and turbocharging to endow it with power at both ends of its rev-range. It’s exclusively twinned to a seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox; thanks to those mild price cuts and, apparently, customer demand, it no longer gets steering wheel-mounted paddles, not even as an option. The more powerful Cupra model, due later in the year, will still have them. What’s it like to drive? The clever engine serves up 148bhp and 162lb ft of torque, and pace is impressive. It’ll rev cleanly and keenly to its red line, before the standard-fit seven-cog DSG gearbox changes up for you, regardless of whether you’ve pulled the knob into manual mode or not. And here lies the FR’s problem – its slick engine and gearbox combo rarely encourages you to grab the Ibiza by the scruff of its neck. Light, quick-witted steering and decent grip levels mean it isn’t a failure when you do, but it defaults to understeer when really pushed and the overwhelming impression is of a classy, fast supermini rather than a pulse-raising hot hatch. How does it compare? The warm hatchback class packs plenty of talent nowadays – if you don’t mind something raw, the Renaultsport Twingo is fantastic, if you want class and style, a basic Mini Cooper is hard to beat, and if you want a well-equipped all-rounder, the Suzuki Swift Sport is currently our choice. The Ibiza FR is a good looking, value-for-money alternative, but all three beat it for fun. Anything else I need to know? Your FR can be a three- or five-door hatchback or a five-door 'ST' estate, and on top of this 1.4 TSI, you’ve a choice of three other engines – a 104bhp 1.2-litre TSI, 104bhp 1.6-litre TDI and 141bhp 2-litre TDI. All three get a six-speed manual gearbox as the standard, and the latter is our favourite FR.

Specifications

Engine1390cc, 4-cyl, twin-charged
Max power148bhp @ 5800rpm
Max torque162lb ft @ 1250rpm
0-607.6sec
Top speed132mph
On saleNow

Most Popular

MAT Stratos 2021 review – Lancia’s iconic Stratos reborn
MAT Stratos – front tracking
Lancia

MAT Stratos 2021 review – Lancia’s iconic Stratos reborn

It’s been a long time coming, but this Ferrari F430-based reimagining of the Lancia Stratos is finally here
11 Jun 2021
Ford Mustang Steve McQueen Bullitt Edition 2021 review – a 720bhp tribute act
Ford Mustang Steve McQueen Bullitt Edition – slide
Ford Mustang

Ford Mustang Steve McQueen Bullitt Edition 2021 review – a 720bhp tribute act

Immense performance from about the coolest modern muscle car out there. It’s expensive, but there’s nothing else quite like it
12 Jun 2021
Tesla Model S Plaid deliveries begin – 1006bhp super saloon now reaching customers
Tesla Model S Plaid
Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S Plaid deliveries begin – 1006bhp super saloon now reaching customers

The long-awaited Tesla Model S Plaid has finally come to fruition, with first US examples hitting the road
11 Jun 2021
BMW M5 CS 2021 review – a class act that reaffirms the M division’s brilliance
BMW M5 CS – front cornering
BMW M5 saloon

BMW M5 CS 2021 review – a class act that reaffirms the M division’s brilliance

Nonsensical on paper, but sublime in practice. Never has a modern supersaloon been more tactile or more engaging
14 Jun 2021
2021 Audi RS3 Sportback and saloon previewed – will it finally match Mercedes-AMG A45 S?
Audi RS3 manufacturer spy 1
Audi RS3

2021 Audi RS3 Sportback and saloon previewed – will it finally match Mercedes-AMG A45 S?

Audi Sport is putting the final touches on its new RS3 hot hatch and saloon
10 Jun 2021
2021 Maserati GranTurismo to go EV-only – IC option ditched
2021 Maserati GranTurismo spy – track
Maserati

2021 Maserati GranTurismo to go EV-only – IC option ditched

GranTurismo coupe and its soft-top GranCabrio sibling to be reborn later this year, but controversially without the proposed combustion alternative...…
11 Jun 2021
Posaidon’s 217mph Mercedes-AMG E63 RS is faster than a Porsche 918 Spyder
Posaidon Mercedes-AMG E63
Mercedes E63 AMG

Posaidon’s 217mph Mercedes-AMG E63 RS is faster than a Porsche 918 Spyder

Three new Posaidon power upgrades are now available for Mercedes-AMG’s E63 S, bringing hypercar numbers to the four door supersaloon
9 Jun 2021
Used car deals of the week
Used car deals 11 June 21
used cars

Used car deals of the week

Here's what caught evo’s fancy this week on the second hand car market
11 Jun 2021
Best small cars 2021 – pocket rockets reviewed and rated
Best small cars 2021
Best cars

Best small cars 2021 – pocket rockets reviewed and rated

You don’t need 200bhp or more in a small hatchback to have fun – these ‘warm’ small cars are the proof
7 Jun 2021
Ferrari F8 Tributo replacement mule spied – will it emulate the McLaren Artura?
Ferrari F171 spy 2021 – front
Ferrari

Ferrari F8 Tributo replacement mule spied – will it emulate the McLaren Artura?

Ferrari’s going hybrid and V6 for its next mid-engined supercar
9 Jun 2021
BMW announces entry into LMDh class from 2023 – to fight Audi, Porsche and other big names
BMW Le Mans header
BMW

BMW announces entry into LMDh class from 2023 – to fight Audi, Porsche and other big names

The 2023 LMDh class is shaping up to be a big one, with BMW getting back in on the action with its own racer, but only in the USA
11 Jun 2021
HKS in development of a supercharger kit for new 2021 Toyota GR 86
HKS Toyota GR 86
Toyota

HKS in development of a supercharger kit for new 2021 Toyota GR 86

Japanese tuner HKS is in development of a supercharger upgrade package for the new GR 86
9 Jun 2021
Can the Renault Clio Trophy beat a modern supersaloon for daily transport?
Jethro opinion header
Opinion

Can the Renault Clio Trophy beat a modern supersaloon for daily transport?

The boot struts have gone saggy and the hatch slams onto my head three times a week, but the Clio Trophy is hard to resist
8 Jun 2021
2021 Alpina XD3 and XD4 update revealed – extra torque from Alpine’s quad-turbo diesel SUV
Alpina XD3 and XD4 2021 – header
Alpina XD3

2021 Alpina XD3 and XD4 update revealed – extra torque from Alpine’s quad-turbo diesel SUV

The updates to the Alpina XD3 and XD4 are largely of the aesthetic kind, but more torque and new chassis calibrations are also part of the package
10 Jun 2021