After the unveiling of the updated Skoda Octavia G-TEC a week ago, the Volkswagen Group is now extending its portfolio of cars compatible with compressed natural gas. Joining the CNG-friendly SEAT Mii, Ibiza, and Leon, the new Arona TGI aims to offer better efficiency than cars fueled by gasoline, diesel, and even liquid petroleum gas (LPG).
Looking virtually the same as the regular crossover, the new version is powered by a three-cylinder, 1.0-liter gasoline engine producing 89 hp and 160 Newton-meters (118 pound-feet) of torque. That might not sound like much, but let’s keep in mind the Arona TGI was built with efficiency in mind rather than to take down Nürburgring records. Hooked up to a six-speed manual gearbox, the 1.0 TGI engine helps the subcompact crossover reach 62 mph (100 kph) in 12.8 seconds on its way to a top speed of 107 mph (172 kph).
SEAT's smallest crossover in detail:
The ace up its sleeve over the conventional Arona is located underneath the bespoke rear floor pan where SEAT’s engineers have installed three CNG tanks. Fill them up to a maximum capacity of 14.3 kilograms and the city-oriented crossover will cover up to 249 miles (400 km) running solely on CNG. Once depleted, the vehicle automatically switches to gasoline to travel for an additional 100 miles (160 km). That brings the grand total to 349 miles (560 km).
The downside? While the regular SEAT Arona offers 400 liters of cargo with the rear seats in place, the addition of three CNG tanks will take its tow on practicality by reducing the volume to just 282 liters. On the flip side, when the vehicle runs on compressed natural gas, CO2 emissions are down by as much as 25 percent while NOx emissions are reduced by up to 75 percent.
You’ll be happy to hear Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo has plans to offer the Arona TGI in all trim levels, namely Reference, Style, Xcellence, and FR. Not only that, but there are a whopping 68 color combinations to choose from, so surely there’s one version of the CNG-compatible crossover out there for you.
SEAT will have the 2019 Arona TGI on display beginning with next week at the 120th Paris Motor Show.
Gallery: 2019 SEAT Arona TGI
World Premiere of the New SEAT Arona TGI at the Paris Motorshow
- The Arona is the first SUV worldwide to be equipped with a compressed natural gas powertrain
- The Arona TGI integrates three CNG tanks to increase gas range and improve value for money
- Driving using CNG helps to decrease CO2 emissions by as much as 25% and NOx emissions by up to 75%
SEAT will take the covers off of the world’s first compressed natural gas powered SUV when the Arona TGI makes its world premiere at the Paris Motor Show.
The Arona TGI marks the fourth vehicle in SEAT’s line-up to benefit from the cleaner, cheaper fuel, joining the Leon, Ibiza and Mii, it forms the continuation of SEAT’s goal to increase the use of CNG, helping to lower CO2 and nitrogen oxide emissions.
The Arona TGI has been designed, developed and will be produced at SEAT’s headquarters in Martorell and represents a further step in the firm’s vehicle development programme, showcasing not only the latest technology but also that reducing environmental impact doesn’t have to mean deminished driving pleasure.
“SEAT is actively boosting CNG as the fuel forms a sustainable additional alternative,” said Luca de Meo, President of SEAT. “Furthermore the technology is compatible with the use of quality-assured, renewable biomethane, ensuring the long-term future of CNG as an alternative for low emission mobility.”
Under the bonnet
The new SEAT Arona is powered by a three-cylinder, 12 valve 1.0 litre TGI engine with an output of 90PS available between 4,500rpm and 5,800rpm and maximum torque of 160Nm at 1,900-3,500rpm. This powertrain will now come as standard with a six-speed manual transmission, helping to increase efficiency and driveability.
With a top speed of 172km/h and the ability to reach 100km/h in 12.8 seconds, drivers will be able to appreciate not only the impressive environmental credentials of the Arona TGI, but also its consistent driving dynamics too.
The CNG variant of the Arona features the same systems as those included in the 1.0 litre TSI petrol version, but integrates components that allow it to run on compressed natural gas. So, in addition, the Arona TGI includes three CNG tanks located under a specific rear floor pan, a filler neck next to the petrol filler neck, stainless steel gas pipes, gas pressure sensors and an electronic pressure regulator that efficiently controls gas distribution to the TGI engine.
Internally, the 1.0 litre engine has been extensively developed to include chrome-nickel covered pistons that incorporate new segments that are modified to use with gas as well as reinforced valves, valve seats, and on the intake and exhaust valves the closing ramps are flattened to increase wear resistance. The turbocharger is lighter, so the turbine responds immediately meaning the engine delivers its performance more smoothly.
One of the challenges of CNG is cold weather starting, so although the Arona TGI is primarily powered by gas, to counter this, the vehicle starts the engine with petrol when exterior temperature falls below -10°C, and then starts a heating process for the gas injectors, prior to the automatic activation of the CNG circuit when conditions allow.
The Arona TGI only uses petrol as an alternative fuel when the CNG tanks are empty, although with three tanks the gas range should be more than enough for most users. The SUV has a gas tank capacity of 14.3kg giving a range of 400km in CNG mode, and, thanks to the automatic switch to petrol, the range is extended by an additional 160km.
CNG is a lot cheaper than petrol making it far more cost-effective than traditional fuels, not only that, but CNG isn’t affected by unexpected fluctuations in prices because it isn’t a petroleum derivative. Moreover CNG is far more efficient than either diesel, petrol and even LPG: the energy generated by 1kg of CNG is equivalent to 2 litres of LPG, 1.3 litres of diesel and 1.5 litres of petrol.
Even when the gas tank is empty the switch to petrol is so seamless the driver is unlikely to notice and a display light in the instrument cluster is the only indication that they are now driving using petrol rather than compressed natural gas.
The new SEAT Arona TGI continues to be a practical, adaptable, customisable SUV, and all trim levels – Reference, Style, Xcellence and FR – are available, meaning customers can still still pick the vehicle that best suits their needs.
The Arona TGI remains an expressive vehicle, with the distinct feel of a crossover, a sturdy posture that is ready for the urban jungle and a varied selection of options to make it unique to its owner, including a choice of 68 possible colour combinations.
And even with the introduction of a compressed natural gas powertrain, practicality endures. At 4,138mm, the Arona TGI is 79mm longer than the Ibiza and 99mm taller, maintaining its greater ground clearance and higher driving position. And, even with the gas tanks integrated under the boot floor, the Arona offers an impressive 282 litre of luggage capacity.
The Arona TGI, along with the Leon, Ibiza and Mii, will give SEAT one of the most comprehensive CNG ranges in the market, with vehicles that not only reduce emissions, environmental impact and running costs, but at the same time mix advanced technologies and magnificent driving dynamism with stylish and appealing aesthetics.