Can a hot-hatch be green?

The answer is probably no, particularly compared to the ultra-low CO2 models such as the Fiat 500, Alfa MiTo and Seat Leon Ecomotive. However, hot-hatches are becoming greener, and the arrival of the latest high-performance model could signal a new era for the hot-hatch.

Seat, Volkswagen’s Spanish arm, has often been referred to as the ‘Spanish Alfa’. It is intended to highlight the individual style and passions which goes into the making of all of its cars.

However, Seat is now carving a unique name for itself with a line of sporty, powerful and relatively frugal cars.

Explosions filled the background of the launch images of the Seat Leon Cupra R, and although not the most environmentally-conscious message, it was intended to highlight the power and performance of the latest hot-hatch to thrill the UK market.

But there is much more to the Leon Cupra R than that. CO2 emissions are just 190g/km, much lower than the expected figure of 220g/km plus from similar hot hatch models. The combined fuel economy of 34.9mpg is further indication the Spanish manufacturer has the ability to refine and improve its engines to meet emissions fears.

It is easy to focus on the sporty R styling and 2.0-litre tuned engine, but the Seat Leon Cupra R is a rare thing in the hot-hatch class – a car with performance and frugality.

It’s probably not going to come top of any green car lists – there’s always the 99g/km Ecomotive Leon for that – but it is a step in the right direction while maintaining all the performance of previous versions.

Here’s the Leon Cupra R in action, but if you’re interested, it may be wise to move quickly. Only 500 are set to be produced in the first year of production.