Seat Ibiza FR

October 2009

picture of car from the front

FR is identified by bodykit as well as badges


Overall Rating 8Overall rating

Value for money Rating 7Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 8Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 7Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 7Controls and display

Comfort Rating 7Comfort

Security Rating 8Car security

Safety Rating 8Car safety


  • Sporty details add to attractive Ibiza shape
  • Clever engine is flexible and powerful
  • Well-equipped cabin and strong build quality
  • Sharp responses make for an engaging drive


  • Despite brilliance of DSG, no manual option
  • Bluetooth phone connection only an option
  • No five-door version
  • Cupra model is arguably its closest rival

Passion and performance are two key values of the Seat brand, which goes some way to explaining its increasingly popularity and its strong following amongst younger drivers. In each of its cars the FR badge signifies a performance version pitched just below the hottest Cupra version, intended to give a sporting edge but within a reasonable budget.

Hot hatch buyers are more spoilt for choice than ever, particularly as many manufacturers offers cars with varying degrees of power and performance. Seat is no different, with the Ibiza FR slotting below the Cupra and the limited-run Cupra Bocanegra bringing even more diversity to the sporty Ibiza line-up.

The exterior is undeniably sporty, being based on the rakish looks of the Ibiza SC. FR trim adds a distinctive bodykit that builds on the strong lines of the standard car, with a deep front spoiler with large air intakes to feed the engine. At the rear there is also a deep bumper, with a distinctive trapezoidal exhaust pipe, echoing the sharpness of the overall design.

Inside there are more sporty touches, like the chunky sports seats, red highlights and a three-spoke steering wheel with red stitching. It's an appealing cabin which looks and feels of good quality, but it also avoids being over-complicated and helps to maintain a feeling of space up front. Standard equipment levels are also increased on the FR model, with climate control and side airbags fitted as standard.

Underneath the skin, the Ibiza FR uses the Volkswagen Group 1.4-litre TSI unit, which utilises both a turbocharger and a supercharger to provide low-rev torque and high-rev punch. The modest capacity and clever technology makes for an efficient engine and, combined with the standard fit seven-speed DSG gearbox, makes the FR a unique and exciting package.

Our verdict on the Seat Ibiza FR

The Ibiza FR has matured considerably compared to the old car and while it still offers genuine thrills and excitement for the keen driver, it makes a much better fist of everyday driving. With the DSG gearbox in auto mode it makes an excellent city car and the high specification adds up to an attractive all-round package.

Costs rating 8

The Ibiza FR has improved running costs compared to the old car and the efficiency of the engine and gearbox gives impressive economy and emissions figures for the performance.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 7

For a car of its size the Ibiza provides a decent amount of space. Front seat passengers are well accommodated and, although the rear is less generous, it should cope with the majority of adults. The boot is also reasonably sized for a small car.

picture of car from the rear

Twin exhausts at the rear are a sign of performance

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 7

The layout inside the Ibiza FR is simple and uncluttered, with smart red displays which are easy to read and attractive. All the major controls are well-defined and operate smoothly, with big clear buttons which are an improvement on the old car.

Comfort Rating 7

Well-bolstered sports seats provide good support and high comfort levels although, again, this is diminished by the firm ride. Unlike previous hot Ibizas, the ride is not harsh, which means quicker progress on poor roads and a less tiring drive over long distances.

Car security
Security Rating 8

The FR comes with central locking as standard, which is designed to open the driver's door only on the first press of the button to reduce the risk of unwanted intruders. The FR also gets an alarm and immobiliser as standard, essential items for a desirable performance car.

Car safety
Safety Rating 8

A number of safety features are included on the Ibiza as standard and the FR benefits from all the available systems. Twin front and side airbags are standard, as is ABS and ESP, plus the XDS traction system which electronically replicates the actions of a limited-slip differential.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 7

Keen drivers will enjoy the Ibiza's attributes, as its performance, grip and handling make it fun to drive over challenging roads. The engine provides strong torque all around the rev range thanks to the clever twin-charger system. The quick-fire DSG gearbox is also a boon, giving seamless acceleration and maximising the engine performance.

picture of car interior

Cabin is comfortable and well-equippped

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 6

A small family would find the Ibiza a perfectly adequate car to use regularly, with enough space and practicality to cope with most eventualities. The lack of five-doors would be the biggest sticking point however, and would make it an unlikely choice.

First car appeal
First car Rating 6

In terms of size and initial purchase price the Ibiza FR would make a suitable car for some first time buyers, but insurance costs and the performance available may be too much for many inexperienced drivers.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 7

Thanks to its shared parentage with VolksWagen, the Ibiza offers a great deal of quality. Inside and out the car feels well constructed from good materials and also feels substantial and hardwearing. Its image builds on this quality feel, but also adds the appeal from its performance and sharp looks, conveying an image of a performance car that is good value.

Accessibility Rating

Available in three-door SC form only, FR models benefit from the Access-Plus system as standard, which tilts and slides the front seat forward to make gaining access to the rear seats easier. For front seat passengers the long doors provide a wide opening for straightforward access. The boot is deep and although it has a relatively high load lip, the wide bootlid gives a large opening.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

The Ibiza FR is fitted as standard with a radio/CD unit that can play MP3 CDs and also accept input through an auxiliary socket. The sound quality is respectable, with a pleasing, clear display on the dashboard. Remote controls are also mounted on the steering wheel for ease of use.

picture of car in detail

Standard DSG gearbox includes shift paddles on the steering wheel

Colours and trim

Standard trim on the FR models is a mixture of red and black. The majority of the dashboard and trim materials are black, with the occasional highlight such as stitching or lettering picked out in red. The addition of a gloss black finish in places is also a stylish touch that helps to raise the sense of quality.


The steeply raked rear window in the Ibiza makes it easy to judge the rear of the car when reversing, although the chunky rear pillars do restrict vision over the shoulder. Otherwise the Ibiza is easy to park. Parking sensors are only available as an option.

Spare wheel

Full size spare fitted as standard underneath the boot floor.


Range information

Petrol engine options - 1.2-litre (69bhp); 1.4-litre (83bhp); 1.6-litre (103bhp); 1.4-litre (148bhp and 177bhp). Diesel engine options - 1.4-litre (79bhp); 1.6-litre (103bhp). Transmission options: Five-speed manual gearbox, seven-speed DSG twin clutch automatic gearbox. Trim levels: Ecomotive, S, SE, Sport, FR, Cupra, Bocanegra.


Alternative cars

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Peugeot 207 GTi THP 175 Understated and quick, but lacks outright vigour

Vauxhall Corsa VXR Fast, stylish and well-equippped

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October 2009