A characterful, frugal hatch that will appeal to British buyers if it's priced right.

What is it?

The most compact car in Seat’s range, and the first to get the carbon-conscious Ecomotive treatment.

Rather than adopting an expensive hybrid powertrain, stop-start or regenerative braking, the engineers have used a set of cheap and practical efficiency measures: improving the Ibiza’s aerodynamics, reducing weight, remapping the ECU and lengthening the gearing.

The result is a stylish competitor to the VW Polo BlueMotion that can emit as little as 99g/km of CO2, the lowest in its class, yet costs no more to produce than the standard Ibiza.

What’s it like?

The 40psi, low-resistance 165/70 Dunlop tyres that help lower fuel consumption also reduce the Ibiza’s cornering ability and allow early (if progressive) understeer on sharper bends. There is no noticeable deterioration in ride quality, however.

The tweaked 1.4-litre TDI unit spins freely and is refined all the way to its 4500rpm redline. The extra fuel efficiency appears to have been found without any power loss, except possibly some low-down torque; the unit only begins to pull strongly above 2000rpm.

Although the gearing is taller, the top speed of 110mph is still achieved in fifth and on flat roads the car will pull steadily in this gear from about 50mph.

Should I buy one?

UK specifications have not been confirmed, but will not include the air-con fitted to our Spanish test car, which would add another 5g/km of CO2 and take the vehicle out of road tax band A (currently free).

With diesel at £1 a litre, the Ecomotive should be the default choice for budget motoring if it’s sensibly priced. At an expected £10,500, it will be.

Ed Keohane

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