From £14,700
Cheap and clean to run, but you're paying a premium for little more than moral high ground
29 January 2008

What is it?

Ken Livingstone might be out of kilter with the rest of us - he’s just pulled a shocking handbrake turn on plans to let low-polluters like this Leon Ecomotive into London for free - but European manufacturers are still striving to get frugal, low carbon models onto the market. Ultra frugal models are good for our wallets and their brand image

This Leon is Seat’s second environmental model since the 99g/km CO2 Ibiza Ecomotive launched last year, and it follows a familiar emissions-slashing formula.

Starting with the basic 1.9-litre diesel Leon (with its 135g/km CO2 emissions and 55mpg average) Seat’s engineers optimised the ECU and adjusted the gear ratios to make third, fourth and fifth gear longer. That saved 7g/km CO2. Next they reduced weight by fitting lighter steel wheels rather than alloys. Another 5g/km saved. Lastly low rolling resistance tyres were added, cutting a further 4g/km CO2.

That leaves 119g/km CO2, squeezing the Leon Ecomotive into cheap company car and road tax brackets and offering a 62.8mpg combined fuel economy.

What’s it like?

Initially we scoffed at that fuel consumption figure, but then managed an impressive real-world 60mpg on our test drive. And the Ecomotive's hardly a stripped out model, it's still got air-conditioning, electric windows and a six-speaker stereo.

It’s also faster than the standard 104bhp Leon - managing 0-62mph in 10.9 seconds rather than 11 - because it’s lighter.

The downside is the way it drives. Longer gears mean the Ecomotive delivers power smoothly but unenthusiastically and its now unhappy to settle into fifth at speeds below 60mph. Pitch up to a corner quickly and the low-resistance tyres struggle for grip, too.

Then there’s the price - around £14,500 – a £1000 premium over the similarly equipped, 1.9-litre diesel Leon Reference.

Should I buy one?

You'd have to do a lot of miles to make up that difference in fuel cost, especially now these sub-120 grammers won't be congestion charge free. So £1000 to save 16g/km CO2 might be a premium worth paying for the seriously eco-concious, but only for a piece of the moral highground.


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Will Powell

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31 January 2008

  • It costs £1000 more than a regular Leon
  • Will cost Company Car drivers more in tax
  • Does not qualify for exemption within Central London
  • And it struggles with corners

What is the point, apart from a slight feeling of smugness at saving the planet.

And you can bet the VW Golf Bluemotion will share all these characteristics.

31 January 2008

Where does the extra £1000 go?

Ah! That'll be the Volkswagen group's pocket.

How very satisfying.

31 January 2008

This year's "green" motors are a good sign but there must be a better way. Save weight is good, BMW's engine shut down sounds good if it works, economical gearing could I am sure be made good to drive smoothly, but going back to poor cornering - no way.

Can't help thinking that we are hitting the target but missing the point as we sometimes say in the public services. The game is scoring points in the way authorities measure stuff like CO2 not the real comparisons you might get from quality comparo road tests. Could you evolve a good standard measure of real green credentials ?

1 February 2008

Don't you think the green issue is being overplayed? If it was not for the fact that the automotive industry is an easy target, the yogurt knitting environmentalists would have to go after companies not in the public eye so much.

Real culprits like, coal fired power stations, national grid (powered by coal fired power stations), shipping companies etc.but they would have less impact than the car industry.

Just getting a bit sick of all this.

Where is the real proof for global warming? in fact, where did the large whole in the ozone go?

Do us all a favour and get back onto real issues like immigration, nhs, gun crime, proper policing etc.

3 February 2008

[quote Zeddy]

Where does the extra £1000 go?

Ah! That'll be the Volkswagen group's pocket.


Damn right! Since when have steel wheels become a more expensive option than alloys!!

3 February 2008

How many people around the world are going to have to buy these types of cars to make even the slightest difference to the environment. Millions i reckon, and over a good many years. All these cars are, are marketing tools for the motor industry, and the more we buy into it the happier and richer they become.

3 February 2008

As Kermit the frog says:

"It's not easy being green"

12 September 2008

I bought a Leon Ecomotive.

Now having completed over 3000 miles I am horrified at the really poor fuel efficiency this car returns. I have averaged 44.3mpg. The garage says the car is fine, tests out OK. They say teh mpg quoted by the manuf do not reflect nowmal driving. I say I have been ripped off. I note that Autocar got 60mpg - must have been a fluke! I get better fuel consumption in my 11yr old petrol Renault Megane. Anybody any ideas how I go about solving this, the garage say 'sue us' it was not mis sold...:)

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