Superminis- Ibiza vs C3
There’s a clear eco winner as SEAT and Citroen come together – but is our champ a compromised choice?
If you want a car that sips fuel, rather than guzzles it, small is best. Our 12-model line-up proves that big vehicles can be economical, too, but the cars with the superior fuel claims in ourtest are the superminis.
With an official combined economy figure of 76.3mpg, the SEAT Ibiza Ecomotive is the most frugal choice in our test. In three-door SportCoupé trim, it’s the cheapest, too, at £12,790, while emissions of 98g/km ensure it qualifies for free road tax.
Motoring simply doesn’t get much cheaper, but the Ibiza isn’t the only choice. The all-new Citroen C3 1.6 HDi Airdream doesn’t shout about its eco credentials, although emissions of 99g/km say otherwise. It’s exempt from road tax, too, while claimed combined consumption of 74.3mpg means it should run the SEAT close.
Take a close look at the Spanish car, though, and it’s clear it’s focused on delivering frugal economy. The deep front bumper and unique grille distinguish the Ecomotive from other models, and ensure it’s even more aerodynamic than the standard model – its drag coefficient of 0.30Cd is down from 0.33Cd.The Ecomotive is lighter, too, although crucially, it retains air-conditioning.
All of this planet-friendly effort paid off in our 60mph test, where the Ibiza managed 244.6 miles at an average of 68.1mpg. The less focused Citroen couldn’t match this, spluttering to a halt 9.6 miles short.
The question is, does the Ibiza’s single-minded pursuit of economy demand too many compromises in other areas? And the answer is yes.
The three-cylinder 1.4-litre TDI diesel engine is unrefined, while the long gearing of the five-speed transmission results in sluggish acceleration. Around our city centre test route, the Ecomotive felt lethargic and coarse. Plus, it’s not equipped with stop-start, which we think is a significant omission.
In contrast, you wouldn’t know that the C3 is tuned for economy.
It’s fitted with cruise control as standard, so maintaining our 60mph cruise was easier, and on our constant speed test it provided superior refinement. As with the Ibiza, it doesn’t get stop-start technology, and at 30mph its engine is revving 400rpm higher than the tall-geared SEAT. But while this hampers economy a fraction, the trade-off is the Citroen’s better throttle response.
So, while the SEAT was the more economical car, you pay the price with its sluggish responses and limited refinement. For us, then, the C3 is the better all-rounder.
In this review
- 1IntroductionWe run 12 of the UK's most economical cars dry to see which travels furthest on the average fill up
- 2How we did it...Calculating accurate mpg figures requires precision testing. Here’s the story of how our assessments were carried out
- 3Superminis- Ibiza vs C3 - currently readingThere’s a clear eco winner as SEAT and Citroen come together – but is our champ a compromised choice?
- 4Family hatches- Golf vs FocusBig sellers with big eco credentials, but the Ford and VW proved to be real long-distance runners
- 5Cabrios- 207 cc vs 500cIt’s a close finish here as our open-top pair proves that fun in the sun needn’t come at a cost
- 6Compact Execs- A4 vs 3-SeriesThese saloons blend luxury and driver appeal – but we had a clear winner in the eco stakes
- 7MPVs- 5008 vs Grand ScenicPeople carriers aren’t the most obvious fuel sippers, but one performed very creditably here
- 8SUVs- Yeti vs iX35They have off-road styling, but can two-wheel drive help crossovers achieve a supermini thirst for fuel?
- 9The Results...We’ve crunched all the numbers to bring you a league table of our economy winners and losers