its fate is in Putin’s hands

its fate is in Putin’s hands

Among the alternative oils offered by other manufacturers, some are real curiosities. Natural gas, for example, is used for buses and trucks but much less for private cars. Kit is one of the few with a CNG offer in its range, especially on the Leon with this unusual 1.5 TGI engine. What is the fate of the gas in the car?

There is no shortage of ideas to get out of all the fuel, without having to fall into the electric car fleet in abundance. First comes LPG or Superethanol E85, and it was recently revealed… it used diesel fuel (since approved as fuel). Among some of our European neighbors, alternative fuels have been gaining popularity in recent years. Unknown to people in France, CNG or CNG (Natural Gas Vehicle) is popular in Italy. (Fiat has been selling the Panda and 500Ls there for a long time), in Holland and Germany.

The Volkswagen Group is one of the leading suppliers of vehicles that were previously equipped with natural gas engines. Skoda offers Kamiq, Scala and Octavia G-Tec (Skoda’s name for CNG engines), and Seat Arona, Ibiza and Leon hit the TGI.

For profit above all

Obviously, sales are limited to a few copies each year and you have to be a visionary, activist or influencer to run the gas as an individual! On the contrary, this fuel is used mostly by professionals, supported by the profit tax: heavy goods vehicles, transport trucks, public transport, etc. VAT is 100% refundable, registration is free, TVS is free (for 3 years) and local grants often provide an incentive to acquire. Even for a compact like our test Leon TGI, fleets can find their way. In addition to the ecological benefits in terms of image (and the Crit’air 1 sticker, incidentally), since CO2 emissions are lower than those of the same TSI 1.5 gasoline, of the order of 25%.

There is no external feature that distinguishes the Leon TGI from the standard engine. We also get road characteristics, and quiet operation of the 4-cylinder 1.5. Not very showy, but smart.

Good to know: expect repeat purchases and sales.

It is possible to find out the resale or trade-in value of your car with the automatic Turbo rating of your Seat Leon, an alternative to the Argus rating.

So CNG will be as financially attractive as Diesel, but without the limitations of driving in metropolitan areas. Except that the price at the pump, highly dependent on the geopolitical context in recent months, has exploded. Especially down in 2021, prices have more than doubled in more than a year! At that time it was around €1.20, the price per kilo (we are not talking about liters here) now around 3 €. And since the main gas pipeline of most of Europe is, so to speak, in Moscow … the future of CNG is completely uncertain.

In use, what are the limitations?

Full tanks (with the same guns and LPG pumps), on the way. There is absolutely no hint in the Leon TGI’s performance that it betrays its special power supply. The seat has taken a known block, in this case 4-cylinder 1.5 TSI present under all hoods of the Volkswagen group. Here in its standard configuration, it produces 130 hp and shows the same handling as its unleaded fuel counterparts. It has enough power to give a good boost, and without vibrations. The DSG box (available automatically in the 1.5 TGI), less worried in this configuration, sometimes hinders the goodwill of the 1.5 but provides an impressive fluidity of movement. So nothing is surprising (9.6 seconds from 0 to 100 km / h), but it is similar to what is expected of a comfortable and quiet compact. Obviously, the Leon’s chassis (based on the latest evolution of the MQB platform and shared with the Golf 8) would be tweaked to take more punch.

TEST – Seat Leon TGI (2022): its fate is in Putin's hands

As with LPG, refueling takes place through a valve located near the petrol tank. We have an extra 9 liters of Unleaded, very useful considering the limited CNG network!

For the wheel, we therefore get the characteristics that we know of the fourth generation Leon. On the other hand, the inclusion of three gas tanks in the back (total of 17.3 kg), under the bench seat and the floor of the trunk, deprives the lower part twice, of a good hundred liters of loading, and a spare wheel. In addition to the three gas cylinders, there is a small 9-litre petrol tank, which serves as a backup in case there is no pump supplying CNG in the area. TGI 1.5 actually remains a two-fuel engine, which can be supplied either with gas or with Unleaded (note that the passage from one fuel to another is quite clear). Fortunately.

This brings us exactly to the first concrete block, after about 350 km (different route including the second road and the road), when the gas gauge lights up: the number of gas stations that supply CNG open to the public is very limited. There are about 200 in France so far, including about twenty in Ile-de-France. When the time comes to refuel, we are therefore guaranteed to have these 9 liters of margin that allow us to travel around 130 km (a little more on a light foot).

TEST – Seat Leon TGI (2022): its fate is in Putin's hands

The passenger compartment is identical to any Leon, apart from the special display of the central screen and the on-board computer, which shows gas consumption.

Fewer economic interests

Financially, the cost of individual use is of little benefit today as the price of a full tank (17.3 kg in total for three tanks) exceeds €50 per increased autonomy of around 350 km, less than the advertised 420 km (4.1 kg/100 km). By adding 9 liters of petrol from the spare tank, you can travel 500 km (at best) for around €70. Therefore, the fuel budget is the same as a regular displacement gasoline engine, but higher than a Diesel or a good hybrid (and used correctly) … and higher than an engine breathing on LPG or Superethanol E85, these last two. not financially viable (and more ecologically attractive, in the case of E85). Everything confirms: at this time, running on gas can only be advocated by professionals.

It should be noted, however, that compared to the Seat Leon with 1.5 TSI 150 hp, the gas-powered 1.5 TGI involves only a very small additional cost: in the best Xcellence finish, the only one to offer both engines, the TGI starts at €33,940 or €530 more than regular gasoline. The addition is quickly canceled with a free gray card and no penalty. At the cheapest price, the Business level starts at €31,785 at TGI and is already equipped with the necessary equipment (GPS, media interface, parking assistance).

TEST – Seat Leon TGI (2022): its fate is in Putin's hands

The only real difference compared to normal temperature, but not less: the trunk loses 100 liters of volume, including less than twice. We are satisfied with 275 l.

Technical characteristics Seat Leon 1.5 TGI (2022)

Seat Leon 1.5 TGI Technical Paper
Tested model: Kit Leon 1.5 TGI Xcellence
Dimensions L x W x H 4.36 / 1.79 / 1.45m
The base of the wheels 2.68 m
Trunk volume 275 liters
Unloaded weight 1.410 kg
Engine transfer 4-cylinder turbo, dual-fuel petrol / CNG – 1,498 cc
Maximum power 130 hp at 5,000 rpm
Maximum torque 200 Nm at 1,400 rpm
0 to 100 km/h 9.6s
High speed 203 km / h
CO2 level 112g/km (WLTP)
Usage is recorded 7 l / 100 km (petrol cycle included) – 5 kg / 100 km (CNG cycle included)
Punishment 2020 0 €
Price from €22,990 (as tested model: €33,940)