SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive 1.2 TDI 5-door

August 2010

picture of car from the front

Third generation Ibiza Ecomotive looks as good as standard models


Overall Rating 7Overall rating

Value for money Rating 8Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 10Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 7Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 8Controls and display

Comfort Rating 7Comfort

Security Rating 7Car security

Safety Rating 7Car safety


  • Good looking exterior
  • Excellent economy
  • Basic but well-laid out cabin
  • Respectable space for a compact hatchback


  • Low performance is trade-off for high economy
  • Some shudder as stop-start system restarts engine
  • Light steering and pedals lack feel at speed
  • Interior plastic quality lacking in places

Seat offers eco-friendly variants across much of its range but the Ibiza Ecomotive has been the Spanish brand's flag bearer with the lowest emissions in the line-up and tax-free status. Now a third generation model, with a new engine, offers even better economy.

The 1.4-litre TDI unit has been a faithful friend to many a vehicle in the Volkswagen Group stable, combining particularly well with a long ratio gearbox and some exterior tweaks to provide super-efficient model variants. All good things must come to an end however, and the 1.4-litre TDI unit has been superseded by a new engine.

Featuring common rail technology the new smaller capacity 1.2-litre turbocharged diesel engine is less powerful at 75bhp but more efficient and with lower CO2 emissions than the outgoing 80bhp unit. For European markets the Ibiza Ecomotive model emits just 89g/km CO2. UK versions of the five-door hatchback (SC three-door and ST estate Ecomotive versions are also available) produce 92g/km as the DPF filter has been relocated for right-hand drive, slightly impeding its performance.

In Ibiza Ecomotive form the new engine will work alongside a stop-start system, brake energy recuperation technology, longer gearing and a revised aerodynamic package with a closed radiator grille, 40 mm front spoiler, a rear hatch spoiler and deflectors over the rear wheel arches. Modified wheel trims are also present.

The 1.2 TDI engine will not be exclusive to the Ecomotive model, however. An Ibiza model that does without the start-stop system and brake energy recuperation system will also use the unit. It has a lower initial purchase price but does not qualify for free road tax and has marginally higher fuel consumption. Available in S and SE trim, the Ecomotive model is surprisingly well equipped with hill-hold assist, tyre pressure monitoring and other technologies.

Our verdict on the SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive 1.2 TDI 5-door

As an exercise in fuel efficient motoring, the third generation Seat Ibiza Ecomotive is a huge success. There's little arguing with the on-paper figures and the fact that the advanced efficiency engineering is contained within such a stylish package makes it even more appealing. However, it will be hard for many to justify the additional purchase cost when the non-Ecomotive 1.2-litre TDI version offers similar economy for a reduced cost that eliminates the advantage of the Ecomotive's tax-free status.

Costs rating 10

With ultra-high efficiency and exceptionally low CO2 emissions that avoid road tax, the Ibiza Ecomotive seems like the ideal choice for those wishing to do motoring on a tight budget. However, a version using the same 1.2-litre diesel engine and not equipped with stop-start is also available and costs less, meaning drivers will need seriously consider whether it's worth paying the extra initial purchase cost to avoid the small road tax charge of the marginally less economical model.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 7

For a compact hatchback model the five-door Ibiza offers a decent degree of space and practicality. The five-door layout lends itself to ease of use and the interior offers head and legroom on a par with its supermini rivals. Interior storage is adequate, although only the glovebox is covered.

picture of car from the rear

Sharp styling is an Ibiza speciality

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 8

The Ibiza's control layout is excellent. Although the interior is hardly overloaded with controls, they are sensibly placed for ease of use on the move, intuitive and nicely styled. The red displays in the instrument binnacle and the centre console are clear and informative and the switchgear feels sturdy. There's a chunky, sporty feel to the steering wheel and gear knob, too.

Comfort Rating 7

Air-conditioning is standard as are electric front windows and the seats are supportive and quite firm front and rear. The three-cylinder diesel engine creates a brief shudder as the stop-start system restarts it but it reasonably refined for the most part and the long gear ratios keep revs and noise down. Ride quality is good, with no need for the firmer ride present on some models because of the less powerful engine.

Car security
Security Rating 7

An alarm and immobiliser are standard, as is remote central locking. Items stored in the boot remain out of sight thanks to the parcel shelf.

Car safety
Safety Rating 7

Despite its basic trim levels safety has not been neglected. ABS, ESP, traction control and emergency brake assist are standard, and more impressive still are hill hold assist and low tyre pressure warning. Driver and passenger airbags are also standard.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 5

Although there's little performance to be wrung out of the three-cylinder diesel unit power is metered out smoothly making it a reasonably refined vehicle to drive. Steering and pedals are light, ideal for use around town, and the long fifth gear makes the Ibiza Ecomotive competent on the motorway.

picture of car interior

Ibiza interior is stylish and well laid out

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 7

For small families or those with younger children, the compact Ibiza makes a workable family car option. The five-door model makes more sense thanks to its greater rear seat access, but families may also want to consider the more practical ST estate version, also available in Ecomotive specification.

First car appeal
First car Rating 10

The Seat Ibiza makes an ideal first car in five-door and three-door SC form. It's smart exterior and interior design is aimed at a younger audience and, in Ecomotive form, the frugality and associated low-running costs will hold additional appeal. Extremely easy to live with and undemanding to drive, it's a great choice for a novice driver.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 6

Seat has a strong reputation for building cars that are as enjoyable to drive as they are too look at, and the Ibiza Ecomotive certainly benefits from distinctive styling even if it can't lay claim to the sportiness of some other Seat models. Quality is what drivers will expect from a Volkswagen Group manufacturer and although the cost effective Seat ethos means some interior plastics are not of the highest quality it is well put together and feels robust inside.

Accessibility Rating

Well-proportioned doors mean access is fine and should not pose any problems. The five-door model offers good access to the rear and the boot door aperture is of a decent size if not uniformly shaped.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

A six-speaker sound system is standard equipment and does not struggle to fill the compact hatchback cabin with reasonable sound quality. MP3 compatible and boasting a neat control lay-out in the centre console the Ibiza Ecomotive SE also features audio controls mounted on the steering column.

picture of car in detail

Clear screens provide information

Colours and trim

The Ecomotive model is available in base S and SE trim levels only, but that does not mean a shortage of equipment. Trim is reasonably basic but the seat cloth is of decent quality, is comfortable, feels suitably hardwearing and red stitching adds some colour and a sporty feel. Some interior plastics are a little on the cheap side but most are of acceptable quality. Steel wheels and hub caps are present on the exterior but the Ecomotive models do get body coloured door handles and mirrors.


Thanks to a compact size, easily judged dimensions and decent visibility all round, the Ibiza five-door does not prove difficult to park. Parking sensors are not present but should not be missed.

Spare wheel

Emergency puncture repair kit in lieu of spare wheel.


Range information

Petrol engine options - 1.2-litre (70bhp); 1.2-litre (105bhp); 1.4-litre (85bhp); 1.6-litre (105bhp). Diesel engine options - 1.2-litre (75bhp); 1.6-litre (105bhp); 2.0-litre (143bhp). Transmission options: five-speed manual gearbox, six-speed manual gearbox, seven-speed twin clutch DSG gearbox. Trim levels: S, SE, Sport, FR, Ecomotive (S and SE)


Alternative cars

Ford Fiesta  Econetic model is extremely economical and easy on the eye

Volkswagen Polo Bluemotion is the pace setter in this sector

Skoda Fabia Greenline uses the same engine and is the most frugal in the range

Citroen C3 Airdream+ boasts great economy and interesting features

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August 2010