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SEAT Ibiza ST FR review (2012 onwards)
Model: SEAT Ibiza ST FR
Bodystyle: five-door estate
Engine: 1.4-litre TSI (turbo/supercharged)
Transmission: seven-speed automatic
What is it?
A supermini estate is one of those purchases governed by your head and not your heart. It’s an appliance. As functional and exciting as a double wardrobe. But what if there was a compromise available, a car that spoke to both parts of your anatomy? That’s the idea behind this, the SEAT Ibiza ST FR.
ST means estate, but it’s the FR bit that excites us because this basically means that under the sober skin of this particular SEAT sits the soul of a hot hatch. Does the combination of uber-practicality gel with this car’s dual role as a junior member of the fast hatch brigade?
Where does it fit?
Supermini estates aren’t common, especially so when they come with hot-hatch rivaling levels of performance. The closest rival to the Ibiza is the Skoda Fabia vRS, with which it shares an engine, though the Skoda has more grunt. The SEAT Ibiza ST range starts from £12,140, which buys you a 1.2, three-cylinder engine. The FR version we test will set you back £17,255.
Is it for you?
For similar money you could land a crossover such as the Nissan Juke, Vauxhall Mokka and the Mitsubishi ASX, which are increasingly popular and stylish rivals offering much of the space of an estate car with the driving feel of an SUV. That said, the Ibiza is a straightforward load-lugger with 430 to 1,164-litres of space even if it isn’t the most fashionable motor out there.
What does it do well?
The 150hp, 1.4-litre turbo and supercharged engine is a responsive little unit, getting the Ibiza FR up to speed briskly and effortlessly. Just watch out for low-speed scrabble as the front tyres find grip. The dash to 62mph takes eight seconds, which is off the mark for proper hot hatches these days, and is 0.7secs off the time it takes the Fabia vRS estate.
The main raison for buying the Ibiza estate is space and the ST doesn’t disappoint. The rear doors have been extended over the hatch version, so rear passengers will find it easier to step in and out. The boot is well-shaped and flat so loading bulky items is a cinch. Plus the seats split-fold and pop down for even more room.
What doesn’t it do well?
Despite the FR badge, the Ibiza merely feels like warmed-up rather than scorching. The ride is firm and choppy but the steering and handling is soft, so it won’t put a smile on a keen driver’s face. It’s fine for getting the kids to school on time, but you won’t want to take the back roads home.
The cabin is also dull. It’s robust enough, but there is no design flair and the controls, while simple to operate, don’t feel special.
What’s it like to live with?
Our high-spec Ibiza ST is brimming with kit including air-con, 16-inch alloy wheels, sports seats, iPod connectivity and roof rails. Leather seats add £905 and a rear parking sensor, useful with a car this long, will set you back another £215. Bluetooth connectivity is a further £410.
How green is it?
With a small breathed-on petrol engine, you get the best of both worlds: diesel-esque economy with petrol-car smoothness. The FR should average 47.9mpg and return 139g/km of carbon emissions.
Would we buy it?
Sporting, practical cars often try to do too much and fail. The Ibiza ST FR isn’t engaging enough as a driver’s car so we’d be inclined to spend less and get a smaller engine.
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