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Seat Ibiza

SC FR 2.0 CR TDI crack

Ibiza FR is a quick, sporting car for regular people. With its sensible running costs, good looks and accessible performance, the car offers one of the most rounded warm hatches experiences on the market.

There has never been any shortage of warm - read moderately powerful - sporty hatchbacks, but stacked up against fire-breathing, be-spoilered monsters they always come second in popularity contests.

With money at a premium for an increasing number of buyers, itís funny how second best has become first choice, though. And car makers have been quick, if you will excuse the pun, to capitalise on this. Spanish car maker Seat is just the latest to offer compact hatchbacks in both warm and hot varieties. Its popular Ibiza is a perfect example, with FR being warm and Cupra the hot option.

Petrol has long been the fuel of choice for such cars, but increasingly diesel has featured more prominently. Cost is one reason as, if you rack up the miles, fuel economy can be better when running on the black stuff.

Increasingly though, itís the diesel engineís fundamental characteristics that have provided a strong case for switching. With more low down pulling power than your average petrol motor - even Seatís own similar capacity offerings - this Ibizaís 2.0-litre lump promises to make light work of both the urban crawl and challenging twisty backroads.

And in practice thatís exactly what happens; Seatís 2.0-litre common rail motor boasts a healthy 141bhp and a generous 236lb/ft of torque. Now, in anyoneís language thatís a lot of torque, which makes the need to constantly stir the carís slick six-speed gearbox less of an issue than if this were a petrol Ibiza.

When driven in a relaxed manner, the Ibiza FR is happy to ride the engineís wave of torque. It makes for a surprisingly refined cruising experience and ensures that motorway journeys are dispatched with ease. And for what is a firmly sprung small car thatís quite a feat, as usually such sporty hatches are the least suited of all cars for such activities.

There is another side to the Ibiza FR which is much more in keeping with its lowered and bodykitted stance, however. While the on-paper acceleration figure of 8.2 seconds for the sprint to 62mph doesnít sound that impressive, once this Ibiza is on the move it will rocket along at speeds that belie both its badge and modestly appointed cabin.

In the real world, as apposed to the airbrushed environment of glossy car magazines and flash telly programmes, the Ibiza scores highly because itís so user friendly. You donít have to be a Driving God to extract the maximum from it, and if you find wringing the last tenth from a high-revving petrol GTI a chore youíll love this Ibiza FR for its deep reserves of torque and sensibly spaced gear ratios.

The truth is, this Ibiza FR is a quick, sporting car for regular people. For one thing, if you pay for your own fuel and running costs, youíll like the carís 61.4mpg and 119g/km CO2 rating.

For the money itís also well equipped with a decent audio unit, all the safety kit youíll need plus a good driving position and supportive seats. It also looks convincing as a performance hatch. Seatís designers have resisted the urge to make the Ibiza look like a project car from some wild, underground street racing community. In three-door SC guise the Ibiza FR looks, well, just right.

Just for good measure, and adding weight to its sensible side, the FR can also be had in five-door form - a first for any Ibiza FR variant past or present.

With its sensible running costs, good looks and accessible performance, Seatís diesel-powered Ibiza FR offers one of the most rounded warm hatches experiences on the market. You can opt for a petrol model, but when performance of this magnitude is so easily accessible, once youíve gone derv youíll never go back.