After almost six months with our long-term test Ibiza FR, the hatchback has shown its worth as an entertaining second car of the household. However, we’ve realised that thanks to its 1.4-litre TFSI engine with active cylinder technology (ACT) this car has quite a Jekyll and Hyde character, and unless customers have a degree of restraint the latter will win the day.
ACT lets the Ibiza switch to two-cylinder mode under low loads, such as when coasting, to improve fuel efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions. It does this by electronically disabling the second and third cylinders at low speed. Once the driver presses the accelerator, all cylinders come back to life.
Seat claims the system can save up to one litre of fuel over 60 miles of careful urban driving. Yet it is also a feature of a turbocharged engine, which can propel the car from standstill to 62mph in under eight seconds.
When running on all four cylinders and combined with the turbo boost, it’s a fantastic little unit. This could be the problem – customers may find it such good fun to bury the throttle that the ACT is left largely redundant, except for the capability to beat the EU test cycle system and raise buyers’ expectations.
Seat claims it’s capable of 60.1mpg on the combined cycle. In real everyday use – general commuting plus a longer weekly trip – we’ve not seen better than 45mpg, and that was while trying hard and with liberal use of the standard cruise control.
While sales executives need to sell the virtues of this technology, which on paper offers the same capabilities of the Ibiza FR 2.0-litre TDI for a £1,590 saving, the customer needs to be clear of its limitations.
Nevertheless, Volkswagen Group is convinced this technology has a future. It first arrived in the V8 engines powering the Audi A8 and Bentley Continental GT, and has already filtered down into four-cylinder units in the Volkswagen Polo, Audi A1 and Seat Ibiza. Expect it to stay.
What’s been said about the Seat ibiza
The Seat Ibiza is a good looking, well-priced and spacious supermini that doesn’t quite live up to Seat’s sporty image.
The high-performance Ibiza Cupra is quite a fun car to drive. As for lesser Ibizas, these handle bends competently enough, feeling grippy and predictable in their responses. However, the driving experience is an ordinary one.