Thursday, January 15, 2009

Seat Ibiza Ecomotive

What is it?

Seat is keen to emphasis its commitment to the environment, in particular its triumph in the World Touring Car Championships in 2008 with the Leon TDI - the first diesel car to win the Championship, securing both the constructors and divers titles. But the model in the spotlight today is a low emission version of the new Ibiza. This is the third model in Seat's Ecomotive low-emission range, joining the Leon and Alhambra models. Both the Leon and Alhambra already boast the lowest CO2 emissions in their respective classes and the Ibiza Ecomotive will be no exception with just 98g/km CO2, putting it on a par with Ford's Fiesta Econetic due early next year.

The Ibiza Ecomotive is based on the 80 hp Ibiza 1.4 TDI equipped with a DPF (diesel particulate filter). In standard form, this engine has already been highly acclaimed for its decent fuel economy and emissions at 114g/km.

The 16g/km CO2 savings have come from several aspects of the Ecomotive's design including streamlining, engine improvements, weight reduction and raised tyre pressures. Other than minor engine improvements, Seat hasn't altered any of the mechanical aspects of the Ibiza Ecomotive compared to the standard car. Gear ratios have been kept the same and the car maker hasn't opted for low rolling resistance tyres, suggesting that the Ecomotive could ultimately achieve even lower emissions than it already boasts. Seat says its reason for limiting the Ibiza to its 98g/km CO2 figure is that this is the optimum level of emissions achievable without affecting the car's dynamics and driving feel.

UK prices for the Ibiza Ecomotive are yet to be announced, but it will be available in five-door as well as SC (sports coupe) body types. The five-door's premium over the SC is expected to be the same as the standard car - around £700 - when it goes on sale in March 2009.

Does it do the job?

Probably the most appealing aspect of the Ibiza Ecomotive is the fact that despite being lower on emissions, Seat isn't offering it as a base-spec car. Other than the small aesthetic differences which include a closed radiator grille, 14mm front spoiler, rear spoiler and 14-inch steel wheels, the Ibiza Ecomotive can be ordered fully equipped and in a five-door version without harming the car's CO2 emissions. The only options which aren't on the list are those that will give the car too much added weight or aerodynamic drag such as the panoramic sunroof, alloy wheels and sports suspension. So immediately the Ibiza Ecomotive feels and looks like an attractive option, as there's little sacrifice to be made for such low emissions.

The car's streamlining has also given the Ibiza a slight improvement in performance. The 1.4 TDI isn't exactly brisk, but it does reach 62mph 0.2 seconds faster than the standard car and once you've got there it does make a pleasantly capable and quiet motorway companion. The Ecomotive feels just as competant to drive as the standard Ibiza and, the experience is a relatively effortless one, largely thanks to the decision to keep the gear ratios standard.

As expected, it also comes with excellent fuel economy and a predicted range of over 750 miles from its tiny 45-litre tank. That gives it an official consumption figure of 76.3mpg. During our test drive our car was fitted with a data reader to give an exact fuel consumption figure over a 120-mile route. The route provided a range of urban and motorway driving to test the Ibiza's consumption through varied roads. Driving normally and without trying to implement any economy driving techniques we completed the route in 2 hours and 6 minutes and with an impressive real world consumption figure of 65.3mpg, meaning that an average consumption of over 60mpg is achievable in the Ibiza and, with more careful driving, the Ibiza Ecomotive promises figures close to its 76mpg projected consumption.

Should I give it garage space?

We already liked the standard Ibiza for its looks and interior style and the Ecomotive is no different. The visual alterations have been mostly subtle but even the more quirky ones seem to suit the car rather well - the black contrast rear spoiler and retro 14-inch steel wheels. The Ecomotive makes sense in a financially and economically challenging environment, and is made even more appealing with the more spacious option of a five-door model. Exempt from road tax, the Ibiza Ecomotive offers affordable ownership, and it is likely to undercut the price of both its closest rivals, the Ford Fiesta Econetic and Polo Bluemotion. The Ibiza Ecomotive is by no means the most dynamic car in its class, but for pleasant, effortless driving it gets the thumbs up.


4 stars


Model: Seat Ibiza Ecomotive
Price: TBA
Engine: 1198cc 3 cyl, diesel
Power: 69bhp at 5400rpm
Torque: 83lb ft at 3000rpm
Performance: 0-62mph - 12 seconds, Top Speed - unknown
Fuel economy: 76.3mpg
CO2 emissions: 98g/km
On sale: March 2009

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