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Sector: CNG

Seat Leon TGI - a not-so-surprising surprise

Seat Leon TGI - a not-so-surprising surprise © Seat

At the very moment Volkswagen chose to announce the introduction of the modular MQB platform we should have started to fear the countless hordes of new models to be underpinned by it. On the other hand, now it's easier than ever to foresee what models all the VW Group's brands have up their sleeves. Like the methane-powered Seat Leon, which should've been expected ever since Audi presented their A3 Sportback g-tron.
Seat Leon TGI© SeatAt first glance, a Leon like any other, only just as blue as the fuel it uses

The MQB platform has been conceived to be very versatile and underpin all sorts of vehicles, from compact hatchbacks, vans, sedans and convertibles to mid-size crossovers to large SUV's (take the Cross Blue concept for example), all powered with petrol, diesel, LPG, CNG, electricity or combinations of the above. So when the A3 g-tron was first exposed to sunlight, it was quite clear that the Golf TGI BlueMotion was soon to follow and then a CNG-powered version of the Seat Leon after it. And here it is, having debuted at the 2013 IAA motor show in Frankfurt.

In terms of technology, no surprises are to be expected. Motivation is supplied by a 110 PS variant of Volkswagen's 1,4-litre TSI transversely-mounted four-pot engine. It sips compressed natural gas and petrol equally eagerly, but of course a car like this is bought to burn the former much more often than the latter. Methane consumption is said to be 3,5 kg/4,7 m3 per 100 km (with CO2 emissions at as low as 94 g/km), which – given CNG's generally low price at the pump – makes for a very affordable ride. If you are happy enough to live in a country with a well-developed refueling infrastructure, that is. Otherwise, you might just waste the entire 400 km CNG range searching for stations and the 500 km petrol range for actual driving, which is pretty much pointless.

Seat Leon TGI - dashboard© SeatThe trip computer has CNG functions integrated and informs of available range left

Terminology is also quite uninspiring. While the super-frugal diesel Leon is dubbed Ecomotive (which is a Seat-exclusive nameplate), the methane-powered one – incidentally, available as 5-door hatchback and estate – is called TGI, itself a copy of the CNG Golf's moniker. Apart from being far from inventive, TGI means inconsistency as Seat's first methane-powered model, the Mii, bears the Ecofuel name (which again is borrowed from Vee-Dub). Sadly, the Spanish carmaker does little to step out of the Wolfsburg-based über-brand's shadow and pretty much rebadges anything that comes by to put together a line-up of cars which seem to have forgotten the company's "auto emocion” motto. They won't get far this way, even with a 400 km CNG range.


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Robert Markowski
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