Sunday, 24 October 2021

Leon has seamlessly gone green

Leon has seamlessly gone green

ADAPTING a proven model to a rapidly changing world of car production might be considered a challenge.

However, in the case of the Seat Leon, a hatchback that first came on the scene in 1998, the transition to “green” car looks seamless.

Certainly, this week’s drive, the Seat Leon e-Hybrid, is a very different animal to the Leon mark one, which was marketed as a sportier and cheaper variant of the Volkswagen Golf at the end of the Nineties.

Yet the new 2021 car has that “positive performance” that has been the hallmark of Seat cars in recent years.

The technology on the new Leon e-Hybrid means that it can travel up to 40 miles on EV (electric vehicle) range alone.

But as I discovered when driving another plug-in hybrid car up to the Lake District and back this summer, keep the EV battery topped up as much as possible and let the hybrid technology do the rest.

That way you can achieve great miles per gallon because in hybrid mode the driver can maintain the charge status of the vehicle.

By doing so, the car runs almost entirely on petrol power, using both the engine and regenerative braking to charge the battery.

This makes it possible to drive into an urban area under electric power and with zero emissions, which after all is the primary goal of hybrids and EVs.

The advanced plug-in hybrid system mates a 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine with an 85kW electric engine, 13.1kWh lithium-ion battery pack to produce an overall output of 204PS (150kW) of power and 350Nm of torque.

The battery will never discharge below a level pre-defined by the manufacturer, with the system switching back to hybrid mode.

Once the customer reaches a charging point, the vehicle can be plugged in and replenished in as little as three hours 42 minutes using a 3.6kW AC fast charger, or around six hours using a 2.2kW charger.

The 1.4-litre TSI unit uses its turbocharger and direct-injection technology to maximise performance and efficiency.

The combustion engine has been configured specifically to run perfectly within the plug-in set-up. When the battery is sufficiently charged, the Leon e-Hybrid always starts in all-electric mode.

The drive switches to Hybrid mode if the energy capability of the battery drops below a certain level or if the accelerator is pressed to such a point that the engine is required to assist with acceleration.

As I said, the Leon has proved to be globally popular. There have been various body styles available from three-door and five-door hatchbacks to a five-door estate. The latest generation of Leon is the first for the brand that integrates a plug-in hybrid system as well as mild hybrid technology, making the Leon e-Hybrid an important model for the brand’s future.

Designed, developed and produced in Barcelona, at Seat’s Martorell facilities, the Leon
e-Hybrid epitomises the brand’s goal of delivering the latest technologies and shifting to a future more in line with changing environmental values.

The Leon e-Hybrid uses six-speed DSG (direct shift gearbox) automatic transmission technology to maximise efficiency. It has five trim levels: FR, FR Sport, FR First Edition, Xcellence and Xcellence Lux.

FR models (the trim level of the test car was FR) feature sporty front and rear bumpers, Dynamic 17in alloy wheels, dual exhaust pipes and a unique suspension set-up (15mm lower ride height than other trims).

Inside the cabin, FR includes upholstery stitching that matches the exterior colour, a leather multifunction steering wheel, three-zone air conditioning, wireless charging tray in the front and two additional USB points in the rear.

The FR trim also includes full-LED technology at the front and rear of the vehicle, including the coast-to-coast light and LED dynamic indicators, and illuminated front aluminium door plates.

The FR Sport adds Winter Pack, a selection of features ideal for cold mornings: heated front seats, heated steering wheel and heated windscreen washers.

A unique black interior roof lining, microsuede cloth upholstery, the wraparound ambient lighting technology and exclusive 18in Performance machined alloy wheels complete the look.

The FR First Edition includes 18in Performance machined alloy wheels, panoramic sunroof, interior wraparound light, heated front seats, rear view camera and a mode three cable as standard.