First Drive: Seat Leon Ecomotive

Claire Edwards

Seat has treated the ultra-efficient Ecomotive version of its lower-medium hatchback, the Leon, to a new engine.

A 1.6-litre diesel engine replaces the old 1.9-litre unit that was used in the last version of the Leon Ecomotive, and also featured in other low-CO2 cars such as the Volkswagen Golf Bluemotion and the Audi A3e.

Where the old Leon Ecomotive emitted a very credible 119g/km, putting it in the £35 tax band, the new version goes a whole 20g/km further and manages an emissions rating of just 99g/km meaning it qualifies for a free road tax disc.

A host of aerodynamic improvements include a sealed-off grille and wind deflectors in front of the wheels to reduce drag. It also gets low rolling resistance tyres that are pumped up to a high pressure, and has had its weight capped at 1320kg. This means the Ecomotive cannot be loaded with all of the accessories and luxuries usually available to Leon buyers in order to not compromise efficiency. But it should still come with sat nav and cruise control.

As well as having to remember to keep the tyres inflated, the aspect that will have the biggest affect on the owner's daily driving experience is the Leon's gearing. The ratios on the five-speed 'box have been lengthened to allow the car to travel at high speeds with lower engine revs. A stop start system and technology that recovers the energy lost during braking complete the efficiency equipment on offer.

The aerodynamic improvements are improved by 12% over the old car, saving 3g/km CO2. 9g/km is saved by the new engine and gearbox and the start stop system accounts for the final 8g/km improvement.