It’s often said there’s no ‘silver bullet’ for the future of automotive propulsion.
The trouble with all these ‘green’ cars is that, while many of them are actually rather nice to drive and a great many really do produce staggeringly low emissions compared to conventional vehicles, they tend to be rather expensive.
A battery electric car may genuinely be absolutely fine for a great many drivers as a second or third vehicle, but people tend to spend rather smaller sums on a second or third vehicle than many electric cars command.
Plug-in hybrids seem like a nice interim step for many, not least because they can serve as a family’s main vehicle, where higher sums are often spent.
And that’s a long way of getting around to the car you see here, the SEAT Leon Verde.
As you’ve probably guessed by now, it’s a plug-in hybrid. What this means is that a 122 PS 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine and 102 PS electric motor work together on the propulsion side of things, supplied by a 40-litre fuel tank and battery pack respectively.
Combined output is actually 170 PS – a confusing set of sums which don’t involve simply adding motor and engine together apply here. The upshot is perfectly reasonable performance, 31 miles of electric range, 507 miles in total, and a combined fuel consumption figure of 176.6 mpg.
Disclaimer time: Such figures are almost infinitely variable. That number, and its 36 g/km CO2 output, are the result of putting the Verde through standard European testing.
That testing includes plenty of electric running, which skews the miles per gallon figure by quite a margin.
The best way to think of it is this: If you commute entirely on electricity, you’d only have to measure your energy consumption in terms of kilowatt-hours and never touch a drop of petrol.
If you commute with both electricity and plenty of petrol use, your overall mpg would vary depending on what proportion of each you used. Only a little petrol? Big numbers on the car’s display. Driving from London to Edinburgh? Expect numbers closer to that of a regular Leon 1.4 TSI.
There endeth the economy lesson. The Leon itself, part of a Spanish ‘Cenit Verde’ research project, has also led to the development of a smart charging system that can detect when there’s low demand on the grid and charge at those times; data updates via smartphone, and the ability for the car to feed power back to the grid.
Priced from: N/A
Available from: We’ll have to wait and see!
The Leon Verde is far from being a full production model yet, and it’s reasonable to expect it would be at the upper end of the Leon range on price if such a model hit the road.
If you want something like it though, you can still look within the vast Volkswagen empire – Audi will launch its A3 e-tron model in 2014. Also a plug-in hybrid, the e-tron uses a very similar drivetrain setup to the Leon Verde, albeit with around 200 horsepower, and plenty of smart charging technology of its own.
Keep your eyes peeled on carwow for a full feature on the Audi A3 e-tron soon.
Check out our full buying guide to the SEAT Leon with reviews, user reviews, photos, videos and stats.
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