We’ve already accepted that cars with internal combustion engines are not going to be manufactured for much longer. Electric cars are going to take over as a greener, more efficient alternative. However, they are still quite expensive and many people do not have an ability to charge them every day. But there is another good way to make cars a little bit less harsh for the environment – CNG.
Compressed natural gas has been used to power cars for quite some time. It is good, relatively clean fuel that is readily available and allows filling up in minutes as opposed to hours that electric cars require. SEAT has just enhances its CNG-powered range with a variant of the popular Leon with a new 1.5 litre TGI engine. And it is a good example, showing that CNG cars do not actually require that many sacrifices in terms of practicality and design.
The new 1.5 litre TGI engine is actually based on a petrol-burning TSI engine of the same capacity. It is equipped with an advanced stop-start system, the latest generation of variable turbine geometry turbocharging systems and a Miller cycle combustion process to maximise efficiency and performance. The engine had to be modified to fit its new role. Valve seats were reinforces and valves themselves were raised to improve gas circulation. Pistons were covered in a chrome-nickel alloy, which reduced corrosion, and also got some new segments engineered to use gas. The result is a power unit, developing 130 PS of power at 5,000rpm and 200 Nm of torque. And it can also be burning petrol, if CNG is not available. But other than that, drivers probably wouldn’t even know they are running CNG.
The new SEAT Leon TGI Evo variant has three gas tanks, two of which are made from lightweight carbon fibre composite. These two bigger tanks are situated at the back of the car and have to be stronger to improve vehicle’s safety during traffic accidents. The SEAT Leon TGI Evo has a CNG capacity of 17.7kg, which is enough for 500 km. Additional 150 km can be provided by petrol. CNG is a greener option – 1 kg of CNG is equivalent to 2 litres of LPG, 1.3 litres of diesel and 1.5 litres of petrol. Popularity of CNG cars helps reducing CO2 and NOx emissions, which is a major goal for the future. But the best thing is that infrastructure is already here and CNG cars do not cost much more than normal petrol or diesel powered vehicles.
Also, because SEAT Leon TGI Evo is not converted, but made from the beginning to use CNG, its practicality is not reduced by much. Its CNG tanks are taking place of the normal petrol tank and the luggage compartment is pretty much the same in terms of usability.