Advanced technology under the bonnet is ready to play a key role in helping Seat's revised Ibiza range make a bigger impact in the UK fleet market.
Lower tailpipe emissions and pace-setting operating economy from new petrol and diesel engines should help boost the image of the Spanish supermini with company car drivers, believes Seat UK brand director Richard Harrison.
"Our small car model has been regarded as predominantly a retail purchase over the last few years, but we're confident that is about to change," he told Fleet News. "Significant benefits in all the areas that are highly relevant to fleet customers mean we are now able to offer a proposition that makes a lot more sense for business motorists."
"Improvements in quality have also moved the car upmarket and I think the result will allow us to conquer more fleet registrations," he added.
Having better CO2 output than the Toyota Prius hybrid, along with the potential to achieve a fuel economy of more than 83mpg, the Ecomotive model – powered by the 74bhp version of the Volkswagen group's latest three cylinder TDI motor – is expected to be a star attraction when it reaches showrooms in September.
Matching the output of the 1.2-litre unit it replaces, the 1.4-litre engine uses aluminium instead of cast iron to be 11kgs lighter, while a revised balancer shaft promotes smoother running. It also features higher pressure fuel injection for greater efficiency.
Exterior styling is unaltered, save for the adoption of LED daytime running lights and fresh wheels, but significant interior changes are intended to see the car through to its next generation in three years' time.
Drawing heavily on the acclaimed Leon range, the new Ibiza has a completely new dashboard layout, a greatly improved infotainment system, a fresh trim selection and superior detailing, to achieve a noticeable upgrade on the current model.
Subtle changes to suspension and damper settings and a new speed-sensitive electric steering system also reflect the more upmarket aspirations of the Ibiza, with neat handling and ride characteristics that blend smoothness with a composed feel and sharp cornering control.
With a smooth five-speed gearbox to manage its power, the economy model is brisk off the mark and is easy to exploit on country lanes, yet it also has a tall top ratio for the relaxed and subdued demeanour that make it suitable for long distance use.
Now in its 30th year, Seat's most successful global model is the firm's first car to be available with connectivity solutions developed with Samsung. A £150 Full Link option will allow Ecomotive drivers to operate any smartphone via the car's large colour touchscreen.