I feel sensible. Well, I do driving the BMW 225 Active Tourer. As hybrid four-wheel drive MPVs go, the Beemer is just about the most sensible car money can buy.
It will carry you and your family around the country, make you feel good about helping the environment and that BMW badge will always have the edge over the likes of Ford, Peugeot or Skoda.
This is premium MPV with a full load of technology on board. The hybrid powertrain works faultlessly, the cabin is refined and upmarket – even the infotainment system is a cut above and the air con was life-saver in today’s mini heatwave.
The question is – would you buy one at £35,000? I suspect for the many the answer is no, even with all the tax savings and benefits of a petrol-electric.
A likeable car but not a model you could ever fall in love with…
The only chance I get to drive off-road these days is taking my lawn cuttings to the farm compost heap. Today I did it in luxury – gliding down the rutted track in the Range Rover.
Sometimes you forget how good this vehicle is in the dirt. The Rangey is classed as ‘luxury SUV’ and shamefully, few owners will ever engage the Terrain Response off-road software.
If they did, they would discover just how far off the tarmac you can travel in such a large and heavy machine. You will lose your bottle way before the land Rover gives up.
All this is done inside a beautifully appointed cabin, listening to The Archers on the radio and relaxing in sumptuous leather seats. Farmers never had it so good.
Nothing comes close, wherever you want to drive it…
Sixteen years ago I decided to live in a car for two days. Unfortunately, it was a Ford Focus estate and my company was a particularly smelly journalist with bad teeth.
It was as difficult as you can imagine – everything had to be ‘done’ in the car for 48 hours. I mention this because I can say that goday, there is no other vehicle I’d rather spend 48 hours in than the Range Rover.
Headroom in the cabin is so high I can almost walk about. The Autobiography has a TV system in the rear, the seats recline and are heated. I mean, what else could you want?
It’s much more comfortable that flying long distance to Australia – and with a drive-through Costa near here, the food isn’t too bad either.
You can’t claim the Range Rover Hybrid is green enough to help save the lush fields of England. No, no, no.
It is, after all, equipped with an electric motor so small that it would barely power an electric toothbrush (by the way, one of the few features not fitted as standard to this Autobiography model).
Instead, the real grunt of the Hybrid comes from the same 3.0-litre TDV6 fitted to the standard Rangey, which without the £10,000 hybrid technology, returns 40.9mpg and emits 182g/km of nasties.
The Hybrid by comparison returns 44.1mpg and emits 169g/km. Slightly better but nowhere near good enough to beat the London Congestion Charge – and only saves a meagre £20 on your annual road tax bill.
But you wouldn’t believe the amount of interest I’ve got in this particular Range Rover over the weekend. It’s like driving an SUV powered by a wind up elastic band.
I suppose we’ve always thought of Range Rovers as gas-guzzling monsters. But while the Hybrid version may not be perfect, it does show the direction Land Rover is travelling.
And you can bet your last few acres that somebody at Land Rover in Birmingham is already perfecting the first all-electric Range Rover too…
There are few clues that this Range Rover is equipped with electric technology. A discreet badge on the boot reads ‘Hybrid’ but otherwise this looks like a standard diesel version.
And that’s just the way Land Rover want it. The Range Rover is the company’s most conservative model – any change is greeted with scepticism.
In truth, it’s also hard to tell the Hybrid is being powered by a 47bhp motor when driven too. It may start silently but any pressure on the accelerator swiftly brings the 292bhp V6 engine in to play.
To really get any benefit from this model then you need to live in a stop-start city environment, long for improved fuel economy and have a strong will to be greener than other Rangey owners.
A longer electric range of more than just one mile would make it a truly great car…
Bolt may have another gold to hang on his bedpost today but the story that caught my eye was a hotel in Lapland offering a dream job – watching the Aurora Borealis.
More than 200 people applied for the position in Finland last year and now it’s up for grabs again. Sadly it doesn’t come with a Range Rover as a company car.
Shame because even I would be tempted if that was so. Few Range Rovers hit the dirt these days, even though we all know it is THE machine for handling the rough stuff.
There’s tons of onboard technology to cover any terrain but unlike many rivals, the Range Rover cabin doesn’t scream about them.
It’s a classy place to sit, beautiful in all areas and better than a Mercedes S-class. If only they had one on offer in Lapland…
Let’s get one thing straight. The electric motor in the Range Rover Hybrid isn’t designed to pull the king of SUVs along at a smart pace. It very much works in tandem with the V6 diesel engine and can only move the Rangey for one mile under electric power alone.
The battery is recharged under engine deceleration and working with the diesel unit offers the same kind of performance as the larger, V8 diesel. Plus much better economy.
It’s also rare to trundle around the streets in silence in the Hybrid because even the slightest acceleration makes the diesel unit kick in. If you drive most of the time in the country, opt for the standard V6 diesel instead because the Hybrid will offer no benefits.
Still, the 44mpg economy is impressive for such a large car and those rare moments when the electric motor does take over are almost worth the wait…
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’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-36589106.
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’.
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,,,
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…