The Seat Ibiza is good looking, well-priced and spacious supermini that doesn’t quite live up to Seat’s sporty image
First DriveDo revisions to the Seat Ibiza FR add any more spice to this warm hatch? We try the 1.4 TSI version on UK roads to find out
First DriveUpdated Ibiza gets a much-needed interior refresh, chassis tweaks and new options, and proves worthy of consideration
What is it?
Seat's equivalent of VW's Polo Bluemotion – and the most economical Ibiza yet. Seat claims that the diesel powered supermini is capable of delivering up to 74.3mpg on the combined economy cycle, and dodging road tax thanks to CO2 emissions that dip below the 100g/km barrier.
Seat’s engineers have taken a low-tech approach to making these savings. The Ecomotive is 22kg lighter than the standard TDi model, has a revised ECU, rides on special low rolling resistance tyres and has more slippery aerodynamics.
Despite the car’s planet-saving credentials, the Ecomotive is far from a spec-free zone, with aircon and electric windows as standard, along with a decent six-speaker stereo and an auxiliary input jack.
What’s it like?
Far less of a compromise than you would expect of an eco car. The tyres are a harder compound than normal rubber, and need to be inflated to 42 psi at the front and 39 psi at the rear. Predictably, ride quality suffers and lots of road-noise gets into the cabin at cruising speeds.
The Bluemotion gets a revised turbo, but the Ecomotive has to do without this, meaning peak torque arrives at a relatively high 2200rpm (compared to 1800rpm in the Polo.) The lack of low-down torque is noticeable with the Seat's taller gearing: economy is boosted, but it's markedly less keen to accelerate from low revs.
This lack of very low down torque is especially noticable on an engine that becomes so vocal when it’s extended, though it will maintain speed at just above idle in fourth without complaint.
The Ecomotive remains impressively neutral in corners while the hard compound Dunlops break away a little earlier into predictable understeer when pushed.
Swapping the spare wheel for a can of sealant and air compressor to shed some pounds might not be a welcome omission for some but it has made way for a usefully sized hollow of Polystyrene-lined under floor storage space in the boot. Curiously, considering its fuel-saving purpose, the Ecomotive does without a trip computer, making it hard for drivers to see just how economical they are being.
Should I buy one?
The Ecomotive makes considerably more sense than the Polo Bluemotion. Not only is it cheaper to buy, but it also manages to combine standard air conditioning with a sub 100 g/km emissions figure.
That said, it’s still basically a run-out version of the current Ibiza, and most potential buyers are likely to wait to see how much more economical Seat is going to be able to make the all-new Ibiza.
On paper it certainly seems to offer better value than the equivalent Polo Bluemotion – it’s cheaper to buy, has more standard kit, boasts better economy and the tax disc is free.