★★★★ Seat Ibiza FR Red Edition 1.2 TSI | I’ll say it now and get it out of the way. The Ibiza has just too much Volkswagen about it.

You can’t fault the build quality and workmanship that has gone into it but the Spanish division of the VW group is now ready to go it alone and be allowed to make design choices that can make Seat more individual than they are today. l will admit that Seat have come along way over the past 15 years and l can see no reason why their parent company doesn’t stand back and let the Spaniards flex some hot spicy flair into its products because what l got given by Seat UK gave insight into what they could do.

The 4th generation Ibiza has been given a facelift making the car more handsome to look at and the quality of the materials used to build the inside have also been designed to make it feel more than its modest price tag. The model l was given was the 5 door 1.2 TSI 110bhp FR Red edition with a 6 speed manual gearbox. With £2,535 worth of options it tipped the pay scales at £18,270 and made a cheap car even better.

CREDIT: Seat

The trouble starts with the Red edition. Its Nevada white paint with red mirrors and wheels makes it appeal to the young. Several times l had found lads eye up the car. Despite the £30 a year road tax it will still cost a 20-year-old £1000 more to insure than myself at a modest £473, based on a south London address.

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l asked myself if there was a reason why it cost so much more for a youngster and l have to say there are plenty of reasons and valid ones too. It’s a juvenile delinquents dream. It might only have a 1200cc engine but that turbo bolted onto the side and the thin rubber on those alloy wheels with questionable red inserts pushing out 110bhp is more than enough to entertain anyone of any age.

Its little engine would propel the 5 door hatchback to 60 in little over 9 seconds and rev to its red line. If you had a road long enough you could max it out in all 6 gears and find the car buzzing along at a fair rate of speed. Seat claim a top speed of 122mph. l didn’t try to prove this claim but l do doubt it’ll stay there for long should it ever get there in 6th.

The 6th gear is a tall gear. 5th gear is also tall but just a touch tighter in the ratios to allow the engine to spin at a more torque adaptable speed. However the little engine just doesn’t sound built for hard thrashing near or around its redline and produced some unpleasant harshness. All that power is made at a modest 4600rpm. Between 3500 and 5500rpm was were the fun was to be had. On the motorway it did mean gear sections had to be at least 2 cogs down if you needed to accelerate from its quiet cruising speed.

And quiet it is. For a cheap wannabe GTi it did not fail to impress. It was nothing like those hot hatches from the 80s where it would out perform them in a drag race while it would also out handle those blobby 90’s hot failures. What was quite reminiscent to the 80’s hot hatch was switch gear. When manufactures added extras for the boy racer, so the switches got scattered around and the heated rear window switch was not exactly where you would expect it. Having it hidden behind the gearstick on the centre console made it non-existent when where I was sitting.

While l am having a moan I was amazed to find that the touch screen would allow for a text message to be typed while the vehicle was in motion. I detest phone use in any car so the handsfree set up to your phone is quite painless and works with great clarity. Perhaps it was my Android phone but she wouldn’t say ‘kisses” but x x x.

Anyway back to the matter in hand and the Seat Ibiza is very entertaining. The 215/40 section 17 inch alloys struggled to put all that power downing one hard go without tramping about. Sounds quite bad, however the last time l felt tramping like this was in the 250bhp Golf GTi 30 edition.

With a few tweaks and getting to know the Ibiza there is no limit to where you could end up and l don’t mean in a ditch. The all-round discs brakes see to the stopping power.

Where you end up is on the track. If it’s a fun little car you want to take to test days at Goodwood or Brands Hatch this could fit the bill.

A few tweaks here and there and your already entry car could be made to perform in a way that could shame those in greater cars. And when all the fun is over, the fierce temperament reverts back to a 5 door hatchback. You return it to the super market carpark, fill it with a week’s worth of groceries and crack on doing over 50 miles to the gallon.

Now if only I was 20 years younger!

Likes

Price

Build quality

Twin personality

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Loathes

Red exterior dressings

Harsh engine at red line

Did l mention the red bits?

Lowdown

Car – Seat Ibiza FR Red Edition 1.2 TSI

Price – £18,270 (as tested)

MPG – 54.3mpg (combined)

Power – 110bhp at 4600rpm

0-62mph – 9.1 seconds

Top Speed – 122mph

Co2 – 119 (g/km)

Find out more: www.seat.co.uk