Fast-living in sporty Ibiza

SEAT cars have long been a favourite of the more youthful end of the motoring spectrum. Even more so since the Spanish company went into partnership in 2009 with Young Driver, the under 17 driving school.

Since its launch, Young Driver has given more than 55,000 driving lessons to 11-17 year-olds in 190 dual control Ibizas at 15 different UK venues.

Many of these youngsters no doubt opting for an Ibiza once they reach 17 and hopefully pass their test.

And no wonder, the Ibiza is sporty and youthful and, particularly when powered by the turbocharged 1.2-litre engine, five-door FR which is genuinely fun to drive.

But that’s nothing new, SEAT’s have always been great little cars only now they look just as good as they drive with a fresh new exterior and improvements to the cabin to give a much more upmarket feel.

The glove box is a generous 10.7 litres, significantly larger than in previous models and therefore far more practical; it has a new face, re-designed head and tail lights and an updated cabin.

Although a 1.2 litre engine may not sound like something to write home about, when you consider it packs 104bhp from such a tiny engine the real picture becomes clearer. The Ibiza 1.2 TSI will accelerate from 0-62mph in 9.8 seconds, go on to a top speed of 118 mph and return around 55 mpg on a combined run.

The gearbox is a five-speed manual or there is the option of a rather tasty twin-clutch DSG box, which is one of the best around in this sector.

There’s a bewildering array of engines and trims with just about every eventuality catered for.

Every Ibiza model comes with plenty of kit: driver and passenger airbags and head-thorax airbags, height adjustable driving seat and height and reach adjustable steering column, electric front windows.

Surprisingly though there is no air conditioning in the entry-level E, something that seems to be almost the norm these days in even the lowliest models.

That, and the split folding rear seats are tagged on to the next level up, the S a/c.

Up again, the SE gains fog lights, body coloured door handles, leather steering wheel and gear knob and trip computer with the FR taking on a few sporty styling cues, cruise control and twin exhausts.

The Ibiza range starts at £9,995 with the price for the five-door kicking off at £11,430 and the 1.2 TSI FR at an on-the-road price of £13,965.