- We like...Free road tax
- We don't...High price
Eco-greenie travels an amazing 74 miles per gallon. But it's no bargainThere’s something very appealing isn’t there, about driving a car that has free road tax. This Seat Ibiza Ecomatic still wears a tax disc, which you apply for each year as everyone ds. But the difference is that it’s free – courtesy of the car’s ultra-low CO2 emissions rating. It’s just 99g/km, which is lower than notable greenies such as Toyota’s Prius hybrid and pretty much everything else.
It also achieves an amazing 74mpg overall. How ds it do this? Like Volkswagen’s Bluemotion range of cars, Fiat’s Bravo Eco and Ford’s Focus Econetic, it’s not achieved through radical new technology. It’s a case of refining a bit here, improving tuning there, fitting higher gears, cutting wind resistance and fitting easy-roll tyres.
The Ibiza’s a close cousin of the Volkswagen Polo, sharing engines, suspension and other oily bits. Now Volkswagen launched its eco-car, the Polo Bluemotion, almost a year ago. This also had a 99g/km emissions output. But VW struggled to get it below the magical 100g/km, which is the cut-off for free road tax at the moment. So much so that if you add air conditioning to the Polo, or even a spare wheel and tyre (rather than a can of puncture sealant), it tips it to 104g/km.
Now the Ibiza is lighter than the Polo, so this car includes air conditioning as standard while still matching the Polo’s CO2 figure. And, if that’s not enough, it is £1000 cheaper.
But it is an old model. A new Ibiza begins sale later this year, although this Ecomotive will continue to sell into 2009. And it’s poorly equipped compared to other £11,000 small cars. If your car cost £8000, you wouldn’t mind adjusting the door mirrors by hand. But that’s just what you must do here. And, amazingly for a car that’s all about fuel economy, there’s no mpg readout on the instrument panel. And, finally, there are only two airbags fitted as standard.
At least, on the move there’s little clue to its eco-leanings. First gear is low, and a quick flick into second is needed, but from there the little car rows along with fair pep. The diesel motor is noisy but it mostly gives an agreeable rumble. The controls are light and easy and the car darts happily round bends, absorbing bumps with an ease you’d expect only of a bigger car.
The cabin is big for the car and the boot is huge. But beyond that it is a gloomy place to sit because everything you see and touch is grey or black. The stereo is fiddly to use and looks basic while the steering wheel rim feels rough and cheap. All of which would be fine – but for the Ibiza’s price.
When fuel prices are soaring and the Government looks poised to punish drivers through higher road taxes, the Ibiza Ecomotive has plenty going for it.
But, before we wrote a cheque for £10,995, we’d puzzle long and hard over the cheaper, and plusher alternatives, then figure how far we’d need to go in the Ecomatic before we’d recoup its extra cost.
- Engines1.4 turbodiesel
- 0-60 mph12.8sec
- Insurance groups5E
Motors.co.uk value verdict: