Sluggish but perfectly formed to win the cool stakes – Jeep Wrangler


June 30 I refuse to open the handbook on any car – unless the engine has dropped out. For me, every dashboard should be intuitive, straightforward and simple.

BMW found this out the hard way with their system in the 2005 5 Series. Chris Bangle did a sparkling job designing the car – then the techies made a complete hash of the infotainment system.

Which is why I have been struggling to connect my phone to the Bluetooth system in the Wrangler. I know it’s there somewhere but me and the car are now locked in a battle of wills and I’m not going to lose!

Today we travelled down to Dorset. The Jeep performed admirably on the motorways but does tend to wallow on A-road corners. There’s also limited acceleration from the 2.8 diesel when you need to overtake or sprint away from a junction.

I can forgive the Wrangler though because it looks so damn good – even next to a Defender it wins the cool contest hands down. Now, where’s that manual…

The last of the rugged off-roaders….Jeep Wrangler


The last time Car Couture tested a Wrangler we loved it. In fact, it was a blast to drive and rather memorable. Unashamedly rugged, it chucks mud in the eye of the current rash of SUVs that pretend to be serious off-roaders.

Yes, the styling is a throwing back to the original Willy’s Jeep of 75 years ago but it has the same sort of retro appeal you only get with a handful of new cars these days – like the forthcoming Fiat 124 sports car and VW Beetle.

With cars like these, styling plays a massive part in the buying decision – you either love it, or hate it. I’m definitely all for those crazy front wings and the box-shaped cabin.

The Overland sits between the entry-level Sahara and special order Rubicon models. Regardless of trim levels, it’s just one of those machines that lures you in. The visual appeal is almost overwhelming and seven days in the Wrangler should cure me of recent memories of the soul-less Renegade…

The Outlander PHEV is Mitsubishi’s best-seller for good reason


June 26 Another Goodwood Festival of Speed is coming to an end. I’m holed up at the Goodwood Hotel waiting to drive the forthcoming Maserati Levante to Monte Carlo tomorrow on a feature. Obviously, I’ve enjoyed the Outlander PHEV but am expecting a few more thrills in the Italian SUV (plus bigger fuel bills!).

So, since I last drove the PHEV more and more manufacturers have announced their intentions to go hybrid big time. We are about to be swamped with super-frugal cars of every shape and size.

I think the Outlander PHEV was something of a ground-breaking model in that respect. It wasn’t the first petrol-electric but it does seem to be the car that has convinced the great British public that a hybrid isn’t flakey.

It offers many of the qualities of a ‘conventional’ car without making ownership a compromise. It’s also very roomy, practical and reasonably priced – all backed up by Mitsubishi reliability. I like it in electric mode – it is just a shame the driving experience under petrol power is rather lifeless and uninspiring.

But don’t let me put you off. This is Mitsubishi’s best-selling model for good reason…

We’re out, Cameron’s gone – what will happen to the British car industry now?


June 24 I just listened to Cameron’s exit speech in the Outlander. It reminded me of several other momentus pieces of news I have heard first via the car radio. The space shuttle disaster, the Queen mum’s death and, erm, Man City winning the premiership!

It feels very much like the morning after the night before… Trivial matters like cars should perhaps take a back-seat. However, life goes on and Britain has a new challenge to face.

Quite how the British car industry is going to cope with the news remains to be seen. But we have become a great automotive nation again and I don’t see that suddenly changing.

I shall travel to London today pondering what will happen next. The British public has spoken..

Mitsubishi PHEV – we love the sound of silence!


June 23 I still get a buzz out of pressing the start button on any hybrid car and hearing the sound of silence. It’s kind of cool to trundle down the road without disturbing the piece. (I appreciate sports car owners won’t get that at all!).

Mitsubishi is based just down the road from me in Cirencester. Consequently, Shoguns and PHEVs are everywhere. I don’t think either vehicle is easy on the eye but they still have mass appeal as practical workhorses.

PHEV is roomy on the inside, with five seats and masses of rear space. The battery pack for the electric motor is under the floor, so you don’t have to compromise at all.

It may be heavier than a normal Outlander but under electric power alone it really shifts. Sadly, when the petrol engine kicks in, the Mitsubishi power train feels dated and rather course.

Right, I’m off to vote on the EU – more tomorrow…..

VW Golf GTE – It’s time to make a stink about polluting cars and buy hybrid


June 23 If you want another reason why petrol-electric hydrid cars should be the future, just read today’s story from the BBC stating ‘diesel cars more polluting below 18C’

New research suggests many popular diesel cars are worse when the temperature is below 18C. If it wasn’t for the EU referendum, this would be the lead story – and it stinks!

I’m not the ‘greenest’ person in town but I do get the feeling there’s a lot more we don’t get told about the polluting nature of the cars we drive. VW, of course, are in the thick of it with their ‘issues’ but at least the Golf GTE is a breath of fresh air.

There are plenty of hybrids around that offer the same package but the GTE is also great fun to drive, beautifully built and, yes, cool!

It’s my last day with the Golf. It’s not cheap and economy peaks at 44mpg but I can’t help but like it. Would I buy one over a performance Golf R? Not sure living in the country but if I lived in London then a definite ‘yes’.

The VW Golf GTE hybrid doesn’t like uphill stop-start traffic


June 21 The transition between combustion engine power and electric motor is hardly noticeable in the Golf GTE.

But find yourself in stop-start traffic going up a hill, with the car in full electric mode and the Volkswagen doesn’t like the terrain at all.

It judders forward in tiny kangaroo skips that encourage you to switch straight back to hybrid mode.

Otherwise, it’s fun trying to squeeze the most mpg from the GTE by switching between modes via the infotainment system.

Just remember this is a car that performs best around town. I’ve spent the weekend on long distance treks any only just managed 41mpg.

Worth considering if you’re expect to turn the world green with your £33k hybrid car,,,

VW’s Golf GTE – almost as clean as the Eroica Britannia cycling festival


June 20 Like turning up at a vegetarian conference eating a hog dog, arriving at a festival of cycling in a car isn’t a good thing.

Indeed, you can almost feel those two-wheeled fanatics cursing your combustion engine and health damaging particulates.

So when I arrived at the Eroica Britannia ( in Derbyshire in my Golf GTE, I wanted to hoist a flag declaring that my car was actually running on electrical power rather than petrol.

You see, the GTE looks so similar to the standard Golf, you just wouldn’t know it was a hybrid. But I think the VW was just about the coolest four-wheeled machine there.

Even if only a handful of people at the Eroica actually realised I was running on clean air…

Off to Ascot Races. 3-1 I won’t win enough for a Maserati but would settle for a Golf GTE!


June 18 Just off to Ascot – hopefully to win enough money to buy a Maserati. Only kidding, I’d settle for one of these Golfs actually.

For some reason I’ve never owned a VW – which is weird because I rate them pretty highly. Especially the R, which is fantastically quick and so easy to drive at speed.

The GTE is sleepy by comparison but I love the fact it has uber-green credentials and still churns out enough performance to make the ride to the racecourse exciting.

This is the first hybrid that has really turned me on to the idea of owning a petrol-electric. Pretty pointless living in the sticks but I can usually find a good reason to buy any car if I like it.

So, I’ll report back on Monday with mpg – which of course won’t be anything like the official 166 claimed – and how what the Golf is like to live with in the real world.

I hoping it lives up to the promise…

VW has an great opportunity lead the world in real-life economy figures


June 17 Volkswagen announced yesterday that it plans to launch 30 all-electric cars in the next nine years – making itself the leader in green transport.

The company says that by 2025 all-electric cars would make up some 25 per cent of annual sales. It will also move VW on from the damaging scandal it is battling to put behind them concerning diesel emissions.

Our Golf GTE shows how well they are doing. It’s an exceptional hybrid – despite the price – but there is something Volkswagen could do to further enhance the GTEs image.

Lead a campaign to give motorists real-world economy figures! The official mpg tests for cars are carried out over a short distance, which means any hybrid car will appear to give remarkable economy figures well over 100 mpg.

It’s a major frustration to buyers – and a source of bad feeling – that must be rectified. And with VW struggling to put the emissions scandal behind them, what better way to ‘come clean’ on economy.