SPORTY ALL-NEW SEAT IBIZA FR TAR­GETS THE YOUNG CROWD

Seat’s pop­u­lar Ibiza su­per­mini is all-new in fifth gen­er­a­tion guise. Si­mon Davis gets be­hind the wheel of a sporty FR to see how it fares...

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - SI­MON DAVIS

WHAT’S NEW?

As the Span­ish man­u­fac­turer’s best­selling car of all time - with more than 5.4 mil­lion ex­am­ples sold world­wide - the lat­est ver­sion of the Ibiza is an in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant car for Seat. To give it an ex­tra bit of edge over its ri­vals, plenty of new tech has made its way on to the su­per­mini - which is now be­ing of­fered solely as a five-door.

Seat is mak­ing a par­tic­u­lar song and dance about the fact the lat­est Ibiza is the first ve­hi­cle in the wider Volk­swa­gen Group to make use of the new MQB A0 plat­form. This means the B-seg­ment car not only ben­e­fits from greater space in the cabin, there is also a host of new toys that would nor­mally only be found in more pre­mium cars on of­fer - such as wire­less phone charg­ing and a range of safety equip­ment.

LOOKS AND IM­AGE

As far as de­sign is con­cerned, the fifth-gen­er­a­tion Ibiza is more evolu- tion than revo­lu­tion when com­pared with its pre­de­ces­sor. It has a dis­tinctly more grown-up ap­pear­ance, with sharp creases and tri­an­gu­lar mo­tifs con­tribut­ing to a pur­pose­ful and sporty stance - par­tic­u­larly on FR mod­els - although it would be a bit of an ex­ag­ger­a­tion to say the new car was hugely dif­fer­ent from the old one.

In typ­i­cal VW Group fash­ion, build qual­ity feels sound through­out the car. While the cabin isn’t par­tic­u­larly ex­cit­ing, it’s func­tional in its lay­out, with all key con­trols within easy reach of the driver.

A new eight-inch touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem dom­i­nates the cen­tre of the dash that is re­spon­sive and easy to read. Top-level cars like our FR 1.5 EVO ben­e­fit from a swanky Beat­saudio sound sys­tem, too, a fea­ture that will no-doubt ap­peal to au­dio­philes.

The main let-down about the new Ibiza’s in­te­rior is the seat­ing. While the driv­ing po­si­tion it­self was OK, the base

of the seat was tilted up to­wards the steer­ing wheel at a bit of a strange an­gle.

SPACE AND PRAC­TI­CAL­ITY

One of the key ben­e­fits of the new MQB A0 plat­form is the fact in­te­rior space has been in­creased over the last model, while the over­all length of the new Ibiza is a smidge shorter than be­fore.

Head and legroom in the back have im­proved over the older car, and two adults could eas­ily sit in rel­a­tive com­fort on longer jour­neys. The fact that the Ibiza is now of­fered solely as a five-door also means ac­cess­ing the rear is a far less ex­haust­ing pro­ce­dure.

Boot space has also been in­creased, with the lat­est Ibiza of­fer­ing buy­ers a con­sid­er­able 355 litres of stor­age ca­pac­ity.

Not only does this mean the Seat has more rear stor­age space than any­thing else in its class, it also beats the larger Ford Fo­cus from the class above, and is get­ting very close to the Volk­swa­gen Golf ’s 380-litre boot. Well done, Seat.

A bevy of safety tech also fea­tures on the lat­est Ibiza, with all mod­els ben­e­fit­ing from Emer­gency Brake As­sist, Front As­sist and Multi- Col­li­sion Brak­ing sys­tems as stan­dard.

BE­HIND THE WHEEL

Out on the road, while there’s no deny­ing that the new Ibiza is a ca­pa­ble lit­tle car, it doesn’t ex­actly ooze char­ac­ter - even with the

“FROM AN OB­JEC­TIVE POINT OF VIEW, THE IBIZA FR TICKS A LOT OF THE BOXES THAT SHOULD MAKE IT A SUC­CESS. IT’S PRAC­TI­CAL, REL­A­TIVELY AF­FORD­ABLE AND WITH THE RIGHT EN­GINE, WON’T COST THE EARTH TO RUN EITHER.”

pep­pier 1.5-litre, 148bhp en­gine that was fit­ted to our FR test car.

That said, its on-road man­ners were im­pres­sive. The steer­ing setup, while light and rather lack­ing in feed­back, was re­spon­sive and al­lows you to point the car where you want it to go with lit­tle fuss.

Through the tighter bends that were a com­mon fea­ture of our Span­ish test route, the FR felt planted and com­posed, with only a small amount of body roll mak­ing its pres­ence felt.

While the Ibiza’s light con­trols meant that it was easy to ma­noeu­vre at low speed, its small wing mir­rors and nar­row rear win­dow meant that vis­i­bil­ity wasn’t as good as you might ex­pect from a car that has been de­signed to spend most of its time pot­ter­ing around busy ur­ban cen­tres.

Out on the mo­tor­way, the Ibiza didn’t feel ner­vous or skit­tish, and the FR’S 1.5-litre en­gine was re­fined and more than ca­pa­ble of get­ting the su­per­mini up to speed in a timely fash­ion. That said, there was a no­tice­able amount of wind noise at cruis­ing speeds, and the larger 17-inch al­loys on our model did cause an amount of tyre noise.

VALUE FOR MONEY

Seat will of­fer the new Ibiza in five dif­fer­ent trim lev­els in the UK - S, SE, SE Tech­nol­ogy, FR and Xcel­lence. Prices for the lat­est ver­sion of the su­per­mini start at £13,130 and rise to £17,310 for the top-spec Xcel­lence mod­els.

That said, prices are yet to be an­nounced for the sporty FR mod­els with the pow­er­ful 1.5-litre en­gine that we tested.

Seat is pre­dict­ing that the midrange SE Tech­nol­ogy trim level will be the most pop­u­lar in the Ibiza line-up. Prices for this model start at £14,660 for the 74bhp 1.0-litre MPI en­gine. At this trim level, some of the stan­dard fea­tures buy­ers will re­ceive in­clude the new eight-inch touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem, satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion, au­to­matic head­lights and 15-inch al­loy wheels.

WHO WOULD BUY ONE?

With the new Ibiza, Seat has its sights set on out­go­ing, younger buy­ers who are af­ter a stylish and fairly-well equipped hatch that won’t cost an arm and a leg to buy.

From an ob­jec­tive point of view, the Ibiza FR ticks a lot of the boxes that should make it a suc­cess.

It’s prac­ti­cal, rel­a­tively af­ford­able and with the right en­gine, won’t cost the Earth to run either.

Sure, it may not be the most fun car in the world to drive, but that is­sue will no doubt be re­solved when the next Ibiza Cupra hot hatch­back even­tu­ally ar­rives.

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