SEAT Ibiza SC FR vs Ford Fiesta Zetec S Black Edition
Which warm hatch offers a better balance of driving thrills and low bills: the revised SEAT Ibiza FR or the Ford Fiesta Zetec S?
Hot hatchbacks can be great fun, and are perfectly sized for UK roads., But as some offer a firm ride, steep running costs and enough performance to humble some sports cars, they might not be to everyone's taste.
If you need a car to better cope with day-to-day jobs, but also deliver some fast-paced fun at the weekend, there are a select few warm hatches out there - and we've lined up two of the best for an Auto Express road test head-to-head.
SEAT updated its sharp Ibiza supermini late last year, adding more customisation options to enhance its angular design, while inside, extra connectivity tech, increased cabin space and higher-quality materials boosted the car's appeal.
In sporty FR trim and with the firm's punchy 1.4-litre turbo EcoTSI petrol engine, the Ibiza has a useful slug of power, as well as some clever efficiency tech. As a result, it offers the best of both worlds.
But so does the racy Ford Fiesta Zetec S Black Edition. It uses the company's downsized 1.0-litre EcoBoost turbo to balance pace and economy, plus styling from the Fiesta ST ensures it looks the part.
Only a few hundred pounds seperate these cars on price, so this test will come down to which delivers greater driving thrills and lower annual bills.
Versatility vs fun
Boot space is important, and although there's not much to split our two contenders here, there's a difference in usability.
While the SEAT is easier to load, and offers more space inside as well as more advanced connectivity kit, you can forgive the Ford's small drawbacks in these areas because it's so much more fun to drive.
Smarter materials and improved connectivity give the Ibiza a much-needed injection of appeal, while at the same time highlighting the Fiesta's ageing kit list. But you have to pay for these items, and the options more than on the Ford, cancelling out the SEAT's price advantage.
Fast and frugal
Both cars use downsized turbocharged engines to deliver a blend of fast-paced action and frugal running costs.
Yet while the advanced cylinder deactivation tech and extra power make the Ibiza faster on paper, it's simply not as fun to drive as the Fiesta.
First place: Ford Fiesta Zetec S Black Edition
The Fiesta is still great to drive, and this Zetec S Black Edition adds that extra edge of sharpness and composure, without sacrificing running costs. In areas, the Ford looks and feels a bit dated, but the car's chassis, engine and steering are still brilliant. It's so engaging that it takes top spot here. Plus, it's good value, while the practicality drawbacks are only small compared to the Ibiza.
Second place: Seat Ibiza SC FR
While the extra customisation options and kit mean the Ibiza is just about competitive, the driving experience of this sportier hatch doesn't live up to the billing - or it's rival here. Its clever engine tech helped it record better fuel economy on test, but its numbers on paper mean it'll be costlier to run than the Ford, and it's only slightly more usable.
Other options in this category:
New: Volkswagen Polo 1.4 TSI BlueGT
Engine: 1.4-litre 4cyl, 148bhp
The Polo BlueGT uses the same engine as the ibiza, so you get the same blend of pace and efficiency thanks to the cylinder deactivation tech. But the smarter styling and higher-quality cabin make the VW a more appealing package.
Used: Ford Fiesta ST-3
Engine: 1.6-litre 4cyl, 180bhp
For around £150 less than the price of a new Black Edition, you could pick up a top-spec Fiesta ST-3 with delivery mileage. It offers punchier performance and more kit, but the addictive engine won't let you balance bills and thrills quite as well.
|Ford Fiesta Zetec S Black Edition||SEAT Ibiza SC EcoTSI FR|
|On the road price/total as tested||£16,945/£18,645||£16,245/£17,790|
|Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000)||£7,574/44.7%||£6,875/42.3%|
|Annual tax liability std/higher rate||£507/£1,013||£550/£1,101|
|Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)||£1,611/£2,686||£1,440/£2,400|
|Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost||18/£438/B/£20||23/£562/C/£30|
|Servicing costs||£550 (3yrs)||£20 pcm (3yrs/30k)|
|Engine||3cyl in-line/998cc||4cyl in-line/1,395cc|
|Peak power/revs||138/6,000 bhp/rpm||148/5,000 bhp/rpm|
|Peak torque/revs||210/1,400 Nm/rpm||250/1,500 Nm/rpm|
|Transmission||5-spd man/fwd||6-spd man/fwd|
|Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel||42 litres/£100||45 litres/£100|
|Boot capacity (seats up/down)||290/974 litres||292/847 litres|
|Turning circle/drag coefficient||10.1 metres/N/A||10.0 metres/N/A|
|Basic warranty (miles)/recovery||3yrs (60,000)/1yr||3yrs (60,000)/2yrs|
|Service intervals/UK dealers||12,500 miles (1yr)/781||10,000 miles (1yr)/128|
|Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.||25th/26th||15th/32nd|
|NCAP: Adult/child/ped./assist/stars||91/86/65/71/5 (2012)||82/77/59/71/5 (2011)|
|0-60/30-70mph||8.7/7.7 secs||7.8/6.4 secs|
|30-50mph in 3rd/4th||3.7/5.0 secs||3.2/4.3 secs|
|50-70mph in 5th/6th||7.2 secs/N/A||5.7/7.5 secs|
|Top speed/rpm at 70mph||125mph/3,000rpm||137mph/2,500rpm|
|Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range||34.5/7.6/319 miles||38.6/8.5/382 miles|
|Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket||189/104g/km/15%||169/112g/km/17%|
|Auto box/stability/cruise ctrl/AEB*||No/yes/£150/£200||No/yes/yes/no|
|Climate control/leather/heated seats||£275/no/£175||£320/no/no|
|Met paint/xenon lights/keyless go||Yes/no/no||£530/£425/no|