Seat Ibiza Ecomotive (2009) review

Published: 05 December 2008

Seat Ibiza Ecomotive (2009) CAR review
  • At a glance
  • 3 out of 5
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  • 3 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5

Less than a year after it launched the first Ibiza Ecomotive Seat is back with a second-generation environmentally friendly Spanish supermini. And rather than an end-of-life run-out like the first car, the new Seat Ibiza Ecomotive is here to stay for the next few years.

Compared with the old car the all-important fuel economy and CO2 figures are improved, from 74.3mpg and 99g/km CO2 to 76.3mpg 98g/km. That latter figure puts it on par with the Ford Fiesta Econetic as the least polluting car on sale (not counting electric cars) until the 85.6mpg and 88g/km Smart ForTwo CDI arrives in 2009.

Is this new Seat Ibiza Ecomotive an all-new car?

Yes. The Ibiza, in old-shape guise, was the canny way to a Polo Bluemotion. It was economical, but dated and uncouth. This new one, with underpinnings destined for the forthcoming VW Polo and Audi A1, is much more appealing. Not least because you’re now paying circa £11k for a thoroughly contemporary supermini. And one that's even more economical.

I hear it’s Ferdinand Piech’s dream ‘three-litre car’, finally in production?

Sort of – that’s the irrelevant extra-urban consumption figure, equivalent to 94.1mpg. Few will see this. But still, the Ibiza Ecomotive is one of the most fuel efficient cars you can currently buy – and doesn’t resort to fancy, expensive hybrid tech to achieve it.

Instead, it’s the familiar recipe of skinny tyres (inflated to 42psi!), aero changes, a tweaked turbo boost profile and a more basic level of kit. Even air-con is a £500 option, though it's claimed not to change to CO2 figure.

>> Click 'Next' below to read more of our Seat Ibiza Ecomotive first drive

That engine isn’t all-new, though.

No, it’s the same old three-pot 1.4-litre that’s been around since the original, ahead-of-its-time Audi A2. There’s no missing it. It clatters, it’s vocal but, like all three-cylinders, it smoothes with revs and this one isn't short on torque. At speed, it’s surprisingly refined, like the Ibiza as a whole. This car feels very grown up, with big car stability.

Those tyres mean the ride is pattery, but absorption from bump harshness is good. Surprisingly, they make it entertaining through corners, too. Their stiffness gives crisp accuracy to the steering, and the narrow profile means you have lots of 'feel' of slip angles. Grip isn’t huge, but the limits are clearly telegraphed. It’s no Fiesta, but is still a reasonable back-road satisfier.

You sound impressed.

It is a surprisingly well considered model, this Ibiza, with detail engineering making the CO2 reductions possible. Seat has cut 16g/km from the standard 1.4 TDI’s CO2 emissions – a car we don't get in the UK – while 5.2g/km has also disappeared thanks to the smoother Cd and 1.4g/km has been lost via the bonkers tyre pressures.

There are no low rolling resistance tyres (they’re pricey), no stretched gear ratios. ‘We could fit all these, but it would make the car dearer,’ said a Seat boffin. What, so it could become even more economical? ‘If the market demands it…’

Verdict

It’s easily overlooked, the Ecomotive, but is actually quite noteworthy. It’s the (joint) most economical car you can buy. Its seats five within a roomy cabin. Has Audi-inspired integrity and is grown up and quite good fun to drive. The engine may not be discreet but its thirst is; all crucially, without hybrid trickery. And its yours for £11k.

We’re all more eco conscious now – the recession’s seen to that. Which makes this Ecomotive probably the most on-message new car launch of the year.

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Specs

Price when new: £11,000
On sale in the UK: March 2009
Engine: 1422cc 6v four-cylinder, 80bhp @ 4000rpm, 143lb ft @ 1800-2200rpm
Transmission: Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Performance: 12.9sec 0-62mph, 110mph, 76.3mpg, 98g/km CO2
Weight / material: 1090kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4052/1693/1445

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  • Seat Ibiza Ecomotive (2009) CAR review
  • Seat Ibiza Ecomotive (2009) CAR review
  • Seat Ibiza Ecomotive (2009) CAR review
  • Seat Ibiza Ecomotive (2009) CAR review
  • Seat Ibiza Ecomotive (2009) CAR review
  • Seat Ibiza Ecomotive (2009) CAR review
  • Seat Ibiza Ecomotive (2009) CAR review
  • Seat Ibiza Ecomotive (2009) CAR review
  • Seat Ibiza Ecomotive (2009) CAR review
  • Seat Ibiza Ecomotive (2009) CAR review
  • Seat Ibiza Ecomotive (2009) CAR review
  • Seat Ibiza Ecomotive (2009) CAR review
  • Seat Ibiza Ecomotive (2009) CAR review
  • Seat Ibiza Ecomotive (2009) CAR review
  • Seat Ibiza Ecomotive (2009) CAR review
  • Seat Ibiza Ecomotive (2009) CAR review
  • Seat Ibiza Ecomotive (2009) CAR review