Plug-in hybrid cars are here to stay. Not only do they enable you to drive in 100% electric mode, but thanks to the combination of their two engines, they are very versatile vehicles. However, some people believe, for example, that they are not suitable for long journeys, because if you do not find a charging point on the road you are stuck. We dispel this and other false claims with Neus Mesalles, a Complete Vehicle Engineer at SEAT, at the wheel of the brand’s first PHEV, the Leon e-HYBRID.
The 100% electric mode is only for city driving: False! We turn on the ignition in Barcelona. “The vehicle is pre-set to start the engine, whenever it can, in electric mode” explains Neus. Emission-free driving also eliminates the need to worry about the anti-pollution restrictions in place in more and more cities, and offers advantages such as reserved lanes and parking facilities for these vehicles.
Our engineer heads for her job some 25 kilometres away at SEAT Martorell in electric mode. “The range that the vehicle has is enough to get there and back comfortably.” The SEAT Leon e-HYBRID has a range of up to 64 km in electric mode. In addition, the battery is recharged via the regenerative braking system. “Every time you brake, the infotainment screen shows the wheels in green and the blue arrows that identify the electric mode go the battery. This is how you know that energy is being regenerated,” she says.
Only for urban speed limits: False! The commute to Martorell serves to dispel this other false claim. “Many times the electric mode is associated with low speeds, typical of the city; but you can see here we’re driving at the maximum speed limit, in this case 120 km/h” says Neus.
In hybrid mode, the two engines combine to deliver the highest energy efficiency.
Hybrids consume more: False! Once in Martorell, the SEAT engineer has to go to a test track 50 km away. To do so, she selects hybrid mode. “Now both engines, the electric and the combustion engine, alternate automatically in order to offer maximum energy efficiency” she says. This results in a drastic reduction in consumption; in the case of the SEAT Leon e-HYBRID it is 1.1l to 1.3l/100 km (WLTP) and 18.1 - 19.3 kW/100 km (WLTP), as well as in CO2 emissions. “And when you accelerate quickly, both engines run at the same time offering maximum power.” The output of the Leon e-HYBRID is 204 hp (150 kW), which enables it to go from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.5 seconds.
Hybrids are not meant for long journeys: False! Not only does the hybrid mode enable the two engines to be combined automatically, you can also configure them manually. You can programme the electric charge to be reserved for later, or the battery can be recharged while driving using the combustion engine. “With a plug-in hybrid you have the peace of mind of driving as far as you want, regardless of the electric range” says the engineer. “You shouldn't be afraid of new things. The combination of both technologies, electric and combustion, offers several advantages” she concludes.
The 5 keys to the versatility of the Leon e-HYBRID
- 150 hp (110 kW) Otto cycle 1.4 TSI combustion engine, associated with a 116 hp (85 kW) electric motor
- Maximum combined power up to 204 hp (150 kW)
- Accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.5 seconds
- Combined consumption of 1.1 - 1.3 l/100 km, according to WLTP certification (NEDC: 1.4l/100 km) / 18.1 - 19.3 kW/ 100 km (WLTP)
- Range in 100% electric mode up to 64 km according to WLTP cycle