Seat Ibiza 1.4 TDI Ecomotive (2008) review

Published:04 June 2008

Seat Ibiza 1.4 TDI Ecomotive (2008) review
  • At a glance
  • 4 out of 5
  • 3 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, motoring news magnet

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, motoring news magnet

The Seat Ibiza Ecomotive is one of the most smile-inducing cars I’ve driven this year. It’s not very powerful (79bhp) or expensive (£11k), but it does deliver a knock-out blow to your pocket – and conscience. Why? Because the Ibiza Ecomotive churns out a paltry 99g/km of CO2 and averages a scarcely credible 74mpg on the combined cycle.

At last! A green car that doesn’t come with a cardigan, beard and copy of the Guardian in the glovebox. To all intents and purposes, the Ecomotive looks like a regular Ibiza, and it’s available in three- and five-door bodystyles.

But hang on… this is the old Seat Ibiza!

Indeed it is. We’ve already driven the new Polo from Barcelona, the 2008 Ibiza (read our first drive here), but the Ecomotive is a late addition to the outgoing model’s range. It rides on the coat tails of Volkswagen’s own Polo Bluemotion and comes with a series of fuel-saving innovations that were just too good not to talk about, frankly.

It might be old, but we reckon you need to know about the Ibiza Ecomotive. So click ‘Next’ to find out why you don’t need to make sacrifices to save the planet.

99g/km of CO2, you say?

Oh yes. That’s lower than the Toyota Prius’s emissions, but such figure-bashing is a worthless exercise in reality. Most manufacturers are tweaking ECUs here and trimming rubber sizes there to massage their CO2 outputs downwards. The Prius has been around for the best part of five years – and who’d bet against Toyota blowing the opposition away with its 2009 successor? Not me.

Back to the Ibiza. Seat has trimmed the regular 1.4 TDI’s emissions of 119g/km by playing with the engine management, lengthening the five-speed manual’s ratios and adding 14-inch, low rolling resistance tyres. They help lower the drag factor from 0.315 to 0.30.

And does it work?

It works brilliantly. You’re quickly aware that the Ecomotive has unusually tall gearing and a 70mph motorway cruise equals just 2000rpm. It’s not too much of a problem, as there’s the turbodiesel’s 144lb ft of twist to fall back on, but I had to downchange from third around town when I encountered a slight hill.

What really impressed me though was the lack of science, not the presence of high-tech systems strangling the car’s innards. There’s no stop-start to fathom. No clever digital read-outs showing off what you’re doing. No electric drive. The Ecomotive relies on simplicity for its frugality. And it works wonders.

You just jump in the Ecomotive and drive it as you would a normal supermini. And it’s rather good at that. Yes, the outgoing Ibiza feels old-hat now (the plastics are 1980s Pioneer stereo facia, the graphics from yesteryear) but the drive is reassuringly slick: it rides with aplomb, goes round corners neatly and has an engaging three-cylinder thrum that’s surprisingly fun.

Click ‘Next’ for CAR’s verdict

Verdict

The Seat Ibiza Ecomotive has it all. In its week with us, I couldn’t help smiling when I thought of its 99g/km and total lack of clever-clogs tech. It shows how far the standard car can go without recourse to an entire Silicon Valley of electronics and alternative fuel systems.

At the end of the day, the Ecomotive is a regular supermini, just a cleverer one. It’s not stripped out, either. You still get air-con, electric front windows and MP3 compatible CD stereo. Two adults can comfortably sit in the back and the boot makes my Mini’s look a disgrace.

It’s just a shame it costs so much (£11,000 for the three-door, £11,630 for the five-door). This is the sort of tech that should be standard on every car – not reserved for the range-toppers, conceived by the marketing department keen to make a quick buck from the green movement.

Specs

Price when new: £11,630
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 1422cc 6v three-cylinder turbodiesel, 79bhp @ 4000rpm, 144lb ft @ 2200rpm
Transmission: Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
Performance: 12.8sec 0-62mph, 109mph, 74.3mpg, 99g/km CO2
Weight / material: 1109kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 3977/1698/1441

Rivals

Photo Gallery

  • Seat Ibiza Ecomotive: rear three-quarters
  • Seat Ibiza Ecomotive: interior pictures
  • Seat Ibiza Ecomotive: side view pictures
  • Seat Ibiza Ecomotive: light pictures
  • Seat Ibiza Ecomotive: front three-quarters pictures

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, motoring news magnet

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