Green cars are rarely thought of as bring fun to drive, but Seat wants to change that with its Ibiza Ecomotive.

Despite its fuel-sipping performance and low CO2 emissions, this ultra-green Ibiza retains some of the sporty looks of its siblings.

But does it also provide an entertaining drive? Keith Collantine tested one to find out.

Almost every manufacturer has a green sub-brand these days. Seat’s is called Ecomotive, and this version of its new Ibiza has some distinctly impressive performance figures.

It returns a combined average of 76.3 mpg – one of the highest figures for a production car, out-stripping even the hybrid Toyota Prius (72.4mpg).

With a 45-litre tank, the Ibiza Ecomotive has a theoretical range of 750 miles. That’s enough to get you from Plymouth on the south coast of England to Thurso in south-west Scotland. And when you fill the tank back up again it’ll cost £47.34 at today’s prices.

It can’t quite match the Prius’s low CO2 emissions of 89g/km, but the Ibiza Ecomotive’s 98g/km means it incurs no road tax.

Its green credentials are as good as you’ll find in any car – hybrid or otherwise. But have they spoiled the drive by ‘greening’ the Ibiza?

Still a fun car?

Not entirely: Its top speed is 110mph – as quick as the 1.6-litre models. This is partly thanks to its chassis, which is 35kg lighter than the standard car.

The Ecomotive’s 0-62mph time of 12.9 seconds may not blow you away but it compares favourably with similar cars like the Volkswagen Polo Bluemotion (12.8).

There’s no getting away from the fact that the long gearing makes driving the Ecomotive less fun, especially when trying to overtake. Nor is the rattle of its three-cylinder diesel one of the great motoring soundtracks.

But the chassis is responsive and fun to drive. We’re a long way away from hot hatch territory, but with its comfortable, well-contoured steering wheel and plenty of turn-in grip you can have a little enjoyment behind the wheel.

Some compromises have also been made with the car’s style to improve its aerodynamic performance – notably the wheels, which are designed for efficiency rather than looks.

Trendy design

But this is still a stylish car, penned by Lamborghini man Luc Donkerwolke, sporting sharp, dramatic lines that give it a youthful look.

Standard kit on the Ecomotive includes a rear spoiler, air conditioning, MP3-compatbile radio with steering wheel-mounted controls, trip computer, electric front windows, height adjustable driver’s seat, lights-on warning and pollen filter with air circulation.

The Ibiza scored five stars in its EuroNCAP safety test and has airbags in the front (driver and passenger, the latter with deactivation switch) and side.

In Ecomotive form the Ibiza loses a little flair and quite a bit of driving style and performance. But you gain seriously impressive fuel mileage and lower running costs thanks to its reduced emissions,

If you’re thinking of buying an Ibiza and are expecting to cover a significant mileage, the Ecomotive is well worth considering at an £800 premium over the 1.4-litre petrol version.

Key facts

Model tested: Seat Ibiza Ecomotive 1.4 TDi
Date and place tested: August 2009
Road tester: Keith Collantine