New SEATs at the Motor Show

SEAT’s stand at the Motor Show is full of life and colour, with the central attraction being the launch of the new Ibiza SportCoupé. However even the new Ibiza 5 door is a debut to British buyers.

Of particular interest is the range of Ecomotive cars – the (outgoing) Ibiza, and the new Leon Ecomotive and Alhambra Ecomotive are also debuts at the UK show. The race-winning diesel SEAT Sport UK Leon TDI BTCC car is also on display.

The new SEAT Ibiza SportCoupé sits on SEAT’s ‘Agile Chassis’ platform; with the five door, it’s the first application in the Volkswagen Group, with independent front suspension and torsion beam rear.

It’s also the first application in the supermini sector of full ‘double clutch’ DSG automatic/ sequential manual gearbox technology via optional, seven-speed, Direct Shift Gearbox.

Its other claim to fame is that it’s the first production vehicle created solely under the direction of SEAT Design Director Luc Donckerwolke, formerly Lamborghini design chief.

The SportCoupé is launched in the UK with a range of 4-valve per cylinder petrol engines; a frugal 1.2-litre, three cylinder 70 PS; a 1.4-litre, four cylinder 85 PS; and all-new 1.6-litre, four cylinder 105 PS. Further engine options, including a choice of diesels, are set to be introduced in 2009.

Prices are to be announced closer to autumn on-sale date, although SEAT has confirmed that the new Ibiza 5dr will cost from just £8,995 – a saving of more than £300 over the outgoing range’s entry-level 1.2 Ibiza Reference Sport 5dr.

The Leon Ecomotive and Alhambra Ecomotive, using similar fuel-saving tweaks as the Ibiza (revised engine management, aerodynamic alterations, low rolling resistance tyres and ultra-green DPF diesel particulate filter technology, among other things), offer excellent economy and reduced CO2 emissions.

The three models boast improved fuel efficiency of up to 88.3 mpg (Ibiza); 76.3 mpg (Leon) and 57.6 mpg (Alhambra), with CO2 emissions slashed to just 99 g/km, 119 g/km and 159 g/km respectively. The Leon’s range of more than 900 miles between fill-ups has allowed it to drive from the SEAT factory at Martorell, Barcelona to London with fuel to spare.

Not only is the Leon more economical, it also has improved performance, with its 0-62 mph time down to 10.9 seconds (reduced by almost half a second from the standard Leon 1.9 TDI’s time of 11.3 seconds).

Ecomotives have no complex or costly hybrid technology. The cars improve economy and reduce emissions by maximising the efficiency of conventional turbodiesel engines, so making them cheaper than hybrids.

SEAT’s addition of an ultra-efficient, maintenance-free DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter) to all three models further cuts the already low levels of soot emissions from the exhaust. The ECU constantly checks the filter condition and activates regeneration when necessary to burn off accumulated soot particles

The Ibiza Ecomotive, with its three-cylinder turbo-diesel engine, is in showrooms now and has CO2 emissions of just 99 g/km, combined fuel economy of more than 74 mpg and yet a spirited 0-62 mph time of just 12.8 seconds.

New software is added to the ECU, and gear ratios are lengthened, making for both more relaxed cruising and improved economy. The same techniques, including the use of low rolling resistance tyres and modest aerodynamic enhancements, ensure Leon and Alhambra Ecomotive emissions are kept low.

The larger Leon Ecomotive has as its base the 1.9-litre TDI-powered car, but this new 105 PS version has been substantially modified to achieve up to 76.3 mpg  (62.8 mpg combined, 47 mpg urban), and CO2 emissions reduced to just 119 g/km (down 16 g/km from the standard 1.9 TDI’s 135 g/km).

The seven-seater SEAT Alhambra, in Ecomotive guise, can manage 36.2 mpg around town, 57.6 mpg on the extra urban cycle and 47.1 mpg combined – with CO2 emissions of just 159 g/km – and all for £19,145.