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Seat Ibiza FR review: Frugal but fast



£17,060 as tested
1.4-litre TSI ACT: 138bhp
0-62mph 7.8secs, top speed 130mph
6sp man
60.1mpg, 109g/km CO2
RV 3yr/30k
Start mileage
Current mileage
Key rivals
Ford Fiesta 1.0T Titanium, Peugeot 208 1.6VTi, Suzuki Swift Sport



The current generation Seat Ibiza last received a facelift in 2012, but Seat dealers are poised to give it a fresh push this year thanks to the arrival of a clever new engine.

The new 1.4-litre TSI ACT (Active Cylinder Technology) engine in the Seat Ibiza FR Edition has four cylinders, but if it just needs to cruise along, it will only use a couple of them, significantly reducing fuel consumption.

The result is a car that will cover 0-62mph in under eight seconds, but is rated at 60.1mpg on the EU’s official combined cycle if the driver is feeling frugal. We’ll find out how close it can come to that figure in daily use over the next six months as it is this model that has joined AM’s long-term test fleet, replacing the Seat Leon TDI we reviewed in the first half of this year.

The active cylinder technology enables the engine to shut off the second and third cylinders at low engine speeds and when low torque outputs are required. It does so seamlessly, and will re-activate the cylinders undetected when more torque is required.

The transition between two and four cylinders takes less than 40 milliseconds, and Seat says the system can save up to one litre of fuel over 60 miles of careful urban driving.

The new 140 PS ACT petrol engine replaces the 150 PS 1.4 TSI non-ACT engine in the Ibiza range, offering performance as close as makes no difference – it takes 0.2 seconds longer to hit 62mph, but delivers a 12.2mpg official average efficiency improvement, and 30g/km less CO2 – down to 109g/km.

Available with a manual transmission only, the standard 1.4 TSI ACT FR 140 PS is also slightly cheaper than the 150PS car it replaces, which came with a DSG automatic gearbox as standard.

The FR Edition we’re testing has, in addition to the usual FR specification, red seatbelts, red brake callipers, titanium-coloured 17-inch alloy wheels, contrast-coloured door mirrors, climate control, sat-nav and dark tinted rear windows. That level of kit would normally add £1,130 to the price of the FR, but Seat charges just £600. The only optional extra we specified was Nevada White metallic paint, a £495 additional cost, and a space saver spare wheel, another £95.

In addition to the expected monthly fuel savings, buyers will save £110 annually in VED compared with the outgoing 150PS 1.4 TSI engine, because the ACT Ibiza drops into VED Band B – just £20 per year. For company car users, BIK taxation drops from 20% to 14%.


What’s been said about the Seat Ibiza FR Edition

What Car?

Those searching for a blend of performance and economy will find the new FR Edition Ibiza makes a lot of sense. It feels fast enough to be fun, offers fuel economy and CO2 emissions that make it a cheap private or company car and it comes well equipped.

As a result, it stands as one of our favourite Ibiza models, but those on a budget should still consider the 1.2 TSI FR.

The FR Edition is up against the likes of the Ford Fiesta 1.0T Ecoboost 125 Zetec S and the Mini Cooper. Both are sharper to drive, more comfortable, have lower CO2 emissions, and officially are more economical.

Unfortunately for the Ibiza, they’re cheaper, too.

The Seat Ibiza is a Jekyll and Hyde character

Driving the Seat Ibiza flat out is such fun, its fuel-saving active cylinder technology may never be used

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