By Mike Torpey on 2019-01-12 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
SEAT Ibiza FR 1.5
TSI EVO 5-door
SHARP, breezy and fashionable are all words that could aptly be used to describe the SEAT Ibiza.
But then the Spanish company's most popular model has the youngest customer base of any supermini on the market by a full 10 years.
Looking sharper than ever in its fifth generation, the Ibiza entered 2018 in the best possible fashion by adding the title of ‘Best Supermini' in the UK Car of the Year awards to its haul of gongs.
That's easy to understand too, because the latest Ibiza possesses everything you would look for in a car of its class - capped off with a helping of feelgood factor.
More than 5.5 million examples have been sold since its arrival back in 1984 and such is the confidence that Volkswagen, which owns SEAT, has in the Ibiza that it was chosen as the first model to be built on the group's new platform.
Now available only in five-door form, it certainly looks the part with a streamlined style that has a sporty edge, highlighted by its standout triangular headlamps.
The Ibiza is up for grabs with a 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine in several outputs up to 115bhp, plus a less popular 1.6 turbodiesel, and in five trim grades of SE, SE Technology, FR, Excellence and Excellence Lux.
Our model though featured VW's new 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol unit in warm hatch FR spec and while the Ibiza line-up starts from Â£14,905 this model will set you back nearer to Â£18,000.
Emotional appeal and styling apart, the area that defines the Ibiza is the way it drives and the FR is a gem.
Pushed fairly hard to highlight any flaws in ride quality, vibration or harshness, it proved a dynamically rewarding car to drive - comfortable, quiet and very agile.
Punch is there when you need it, as the figures of 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds confirm, and though you're realistically not going to get near the official average fuel figure of 57.6mpg, it's nonetheless an economical runner.
Inside there's a greater perception of space than before from a car that's actually 87mm wider and fractionally both lower and shorter.
The upshot is better rear legroom and more headroom from seats that are now wider too.
Most noticeable of all though is the boot, boasting a 355-litre capacity making it as good if not better than anything you will find in the supermini class.
Technology and safety, are also at a new level and include front assist, hill hold, front curtain airbags and a multi collision braking system from entry grade and the likes of front and rear parking sensors, eight-inch touchscreen, rear view camera and Full Link connectivity on the higher specs.
SEAT Ibiza FR 1.5 TSI EVO 5-door
Mechanical: 150ps, 1,498cc 4-cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via six-speed manual transmission
Max Speed: 134mph
0-62mph: 7.9 seconds
Combined MPG: 57.6
Insurance Group: 19
C02 emissions: 112g/km
Bik rating: 23%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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