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Lean and green SEAT. Image by Alisdair Suttie.

Lean and green SEAT
Ecomotive is SEAT's equivalent to VW's BlueMotion, where myriad modifications add up to a much more frugal car.

   



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| Week at the Wheel | SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive |

Inside & Out: star star star star star

Other than the Ecomotive badge on the rear hatch, this fuel-sipping SEAT could be any car from the range of older shape Ibizas. However, peer a little closer and you'll note some subtle alterations to make this Ibiza a more slippery customer when it comes to scything through the air. The front end has been deftly smoothed off and the underside of the car has also been tidied up to improve the air flow. Throw in the low rolling resistance tyres and the Ibiza Ecomotive's exterior changes make a decent contribution to this car's impressive economy and emissions stats.

Inside, it's the familiar Ibiza cockpit, with firm but comfy seats in the front, reasonable space in the rear - for this class - and a boot that can cope with most average supermarket expeditions. The dashboard misses the style of the new-shape Ibiza, but it's simple and cleanly organised and the way the centre console is angled towards the driver adds a mild dash of style. Four large rotary air vents help keep the cabin at the right temperature. A five-door Ibiza Ecomotive is also available for those who require easier access to the rear seats.

Engine & Transmission: star star star star star

SEAT uses the characterful three-cylinder turbodiesel that's common to several VW Group products. For 'characterful' in the Ibiza Ecomotive, read noisy. Yes, there's a chirpy thrum to the engine note and it pulls strongly thanks to 144lb.ft of mid-range verve, but there's no getting away from the fact it likes to make itself heard. Still, changes to the engine's ECU electro-brain have helped drop emissions to just 99g/km and up economy to 74.3mpg. Other mechanical changes to the transmission are covered by longer gearing to help eke out even more from every turn of the engine.

Driving the Ibiza Ecomotive doesn't require any different skills or effort from the driver and the longer gearing is only noticeable on steeper motorway inclines where a drop to fourth gear is sometimes needed to maintain momentum. The five-speed gearbox has an easy shift, while the pedals are all light to the prod too.

Ride & Handling: star star star star star

One of our main concerns with the Ibiza Ecomotive was the low rolling resistance tyres fitted to help bring down the carbon dioxide emissions. Experience with the Volkswagen Polo BlueMotion suggested grip levels would be comically low in the SEAT, but the Spanish seem to have found a better balance between being green and keeping the Ibiza keen. It's by no means a hot hatch in the handling stakes, but the Ecomotive feels stable, secure and just grippy enough to be fun on back roads. There's also little in the way of noise from the tyres as they pass over the road's crust, but there is a fair degree of wind and road roar competing for attention at higher speeds.

The electrically assisted power steering of the Ecomotive has also come in for some work to help reduce the drain on the engine's limited reserves of power. We found it well balanced between stability on the motorway and feel on twistier roads. It's also easy to twirl in town and when parking, so a good effort all round. If only the suspension could strike the same balance. SEAT has gone for a firm set-up, which makes the little Ibiza surprisingly capable on motorways where other superminis can be buffeted around. However, the downside is that every lump and bump introduces itself to your posterior.

Equipment, Economy & Value for Money: star star star star star

During our week with the SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive, we covered a fairly typical mix of driving conditions and put 300-miles under the wheels. At first, we worried the fuel gauge may have been broken as it refused to budge from the fully brimmed mark. Our fears were allayed after 125-miles when the needle did slip off the top mark, but even then it made a very slow arc towards the half full point by the time we handed the car back. This superb economy would be impressive on its own, but when you realise the Ibiza has a mere 45-litre fuel tank it's downright astonishing. A few quick calculations revealed we easily matched the 74.3mpg combined economy and could have exceeded it with a lighter right foot. Even so, driving normally gives a very achievable range of some 735-miles on a single thankful. Add in 99g/km carbon dioxide emissions - which means free road tax and cheap as chips company car tax for business users - and group five insurance and the Ibiza Ecomotive is one of the cheapest cars to run in the UK.

All Ibiza Ecomotives come with air conditioning and a CD stereo, while electric front windows and remote central locking are about the only other luxuries included without adding weight to this green Ibiza. For the price, you could buy plenty of other superminis that come with more equipment, but the Ibiza Ecomotive's main focus is fuel economy and low emissions, which it lives up to brilliantly.

Overall: star star star star star

There's a lot to like about the SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive. Top of the list is the superb fuel economy and low emissions that not only save you cash at the fuel pump, but also keep more money in your pocket due to free road tax. It's also a decent drive, if a little noisy, and SEAT has managed to make it fun to drive in a way that only low-powered superminis with limited levels of grip can be. However, the list price is on the steep side and this is still a previous generation Ibiza. When SEAT launches its new-shape Ibiza Ecomotive, we suspect it will gain a further star, but for now the Ibiza Ecomotive earns a well deserved and respectable three stars.

Alisdair Suttie - 21 Jan 2009



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2008 SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive specifications: (three-door)
Price: 10,765 on-the-road.
0-62mph: 12.8 seconds
Top speed: 109mph
Combined economy: 74.3mpg
Emissions: 99g/km
Kerb weight: 1084kg

2008 SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive. Image by Alisdair Suttie.2008 SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive. Image by Alisdair Suttie.2008 SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive. Image by Alisdair Suttie.2008 SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive. Image by Alisdair Suttie.2008 SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive. Image by Alisdair Suttie.

2008 SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive. Image by Alisdair Suttie.2008 SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive. Image by Alisdair Suttie.2008 SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive. Image by Alisdair Suttie.2008 SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive. Image by Alisdair Suttie.2008 SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive. Image by Alisdair Suttie.



2008 SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive. Image by Alisdair Suttie.
 

2008 SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive. Image by Alisdair Suttie.
 

2008 SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive. Image by Alisdair Suttie.
 

2008 SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive. Image by Alisdair Suttie.
 

2008 SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive. Image by Alisdair Suttie.
 

2008 SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive. Image by Alisdair Suttie.
 

2008 SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive. Image by Alisdair Suttie.
 

2008 SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive. Image by Alisdair Suttie.
 






 

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