Blogs: A different point of view

Blogs: A different point of view

IMG_0594It’s been an interesting week and a bit here at Car and SUV headquarters because we’ve had two quite different vehicles to drive, one being the Outlander PHEV SUV and the other a supercharged V8 FPV GT Falcon sedan.

The sublime and the ridiculous – well not so much.

Both managing editor Richard Edwards and I live close to our CBD office, which often entails a relatively slow and uneconomic commute to work in the morning – hence a plug-in electric vehicle such as the PHEV would on paper be the most efficient and effective mode of transport.

IMG_0593Given the FPV GT has been recording average fuel consumption of 18 to 19l/100km for this style of commuting, you would expect the PHEV to kick the Fords backside in the economy stakes.

It would normally provide fuel consumption of 1.9L/100km in the manner it is supposed to be used – but the fly in the ointment for me is the lack of a power point at home to plug it in.

My car park at home is quite a distance from my front door and we won’t mention the two words, extension cable, in front of the good people from Mitsubishi. Thats a no-no apparently.

Fortunately the Outlander PHEV does have a 2-litre range extender under the bonnet which in normal use would kick in when folks took the vehicle on longer journeys, but ordinarily the car would be plugged in at night, and therefore daily fuel consumption would be somewhat lower than mine which is currently sitting around an average of 8 to 9l/100km.

Without stored power available to me for full EV mode to run to and from the office, this left the PHEV to utilise its series and parallel hybrid modes.

In series hybrid mode, the electric motors still power the car, and the petrol engine works with the onboard generator to top up the drive battery: accelerate hard, or climb a hill, and the petrol engine helps by driving the generator.

In parallel hybrid mode, the MIVEC petrol engine (using 91 octane) takes over at higher speeds, when it’s at its most efficient: the electric motors help when extra power is needed.

While 9L/100km may not sound all that flash, It’s still much better fuel consumption than the FPV GT, and if you consider that the Outlander PHEV with the additional weight of batteries and electric motors is a fairly heavy vehicle (kerb weight 1800kg) for a 2-litre engine to power, so the consumption in my opinion is pretty good and pretty honest for such a vehicle.

On the plus side of the ledger – our VRX specification Outlander PHEV is more than well equipped for the urban haul with heated seats (wonderful on a cold winter morning), satellite navigation (which is a bit fiddly to programme), a decent stereo, and the active cruise control is a blessing on our congested Auckland motorways with many temporary 80km/h speed limits.

The forward collision mitigation system also chirps at you if the car in front slows down quickly and you don’t, and it will even pick up errant cyclists who wander into your oncoming path, as I discovered one morning as I was silently draughting downhill on upper Symonds Street.

At low speed the PHEV has an acoustic vehicle alerting system which is an alarm function that alerts pedestrians near the vehicle when driving with the engine off (because the vehicle runs so quietly). The alarm has a different pitch depending on vehicle speed, and its useful in places such as car park buildings or pedestrianised streets where vehicles and pedestrians share space.

As yet we haven’t heard of any incidents of people being run down by silent running vehicles such as the PHEV, but I can tell you from a drivers perspective some pedestrians are quite foolhardy and driving through the Auckland CBD you need to keep your wits about you as people cross the street in front of moving vehicles as and when they see fit.

In the next blog we’ll talk a bit more about the versatility of the PHEV as a fleet and family vehicle and we’ll also investigate the usefulness of the special App that you can download from iTunes to operate the vehicle remotely.

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