No matter where you go with this vehicle, it creates a lot of interest. People walk up and start with the questions. What's it like to drive? How much electricity does it use? Does it save money? Can you take it off road? And so on... "Good, a bit, yes and yes" are the answers if you were interested.
ENGINE / MOTOR
We've been living better electrically for a couple of months now and the plug in aspect of the PHEV remains problematic. It's just another chore to do when you get home tired after work -- plug in the car. It needs a pop-up docking station to recharge from underneath, and the cable and plug thing are a pain in the bum.
You get about 50km on electricity in EV mode which runs out all too quickly with just a few trips around town depleting the battery. Then you're on the 2.0-litre petrol engine that struggles to move the 1800kg PHEV though you can engage a bunch of systems to extend or augment EV mode.
We don't worry about that. For us, it's jump in, drive it, run out of electricity, drive some more on the petrol engine then get home and plug it in. Same thing the next day though there have been some long trips in between which average around 7.0-litres/100km fuel consumption. That's a far cry from the 1.9 claimed.
But we like the PHEV for a whole lot of other reasons. It's a good size for a start and has quite a bit of driver assistance stuff including adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation, auto wipers and headlights, power tailgate, smart key and reverse camera. Many Japanese cars are slow to adopt this sort of technology – not so the PHEV.
As this is the top spec Aspire model, it comes with leather, an (excruciatingly difficult to use) satnav, dual zone climate premium audio, full infotainment connectivity and park sensors to name a few. It even gets a clever remote system run from a phone app that lets you check the battery charge, schedule a battery charge, activate cabin heating/cooling, lock or unlock the doors, activate the headlights and other things. A great idea and very handy.
Off road driving isn't a problem either. Take it to the beach, the snow, the farm on moderately rough dirt roads – with confidence.
The PHEV is good to drive in the city too, offering decent performance delivered in eerie silence when in EV mode. Totally smooth as well. And we like the regenerative brake function that serves as a brake as well as generating battery power.