Corny I know but I couldn’t help myself.
After driving a ‘normal’ car for the last 23 years, there is a lot to take in and it requires some re-programming of your sub-conscious thought. I guess you could say for most people driving is something done autonomously – as easy as breathing. For the last few journeys in the Outlander this is far from true.
When I test drove the Prius one feature I liked was the constant animation of the energy flow. You are either using charge or generating charge. Whether the generated charge came form the engine or the wheels is whether its costing you money or not. This same animation is available on the Outlander; (apologies for quality of photo – I will update with a better when I have someone to drive for me)
There are two other screens showing various stats, I took these after blasting up the road and back to try and get a picture of the animation showing the engine kicking in, but gave up as it was not exactly safe. Prior to this trip the MPG was showing as ‘–‘ presumably as I had managed to drive without much assistance from the engine.
You see the History option on either screen.
All impressive data if you are inclined to analyse it.
So back on topic as I did want to try and share my initial experiences of this new type of propulsion. I should explain that I am not a professional driver but from the age of about 17-23 I was what some may consider to be a boy-racer and I blew about £50k on cars and upgrades, which looking back now makes me cringe. Part of the thrill is having a throttle on the tip of your toes and being pulled in all directions. This is not what the Outlander is designed for. My priorities have now changed and its now all about fuel efficiency. It is certainly an art to get the most from your Outlander but it certainly can shift if you want it to.
You are given the tools to drive efficiently – if you do, is up to you.
Firstly where a rev-counter would normally sit you have an efficiency gauge. It encourages me to drive sensibly.
Having just blasted up the road I was taken aback by how fast it can actually go.
The engine kicks in once you leave the Eco zone on the dial, presumably to top up the battery power required for propulsion. I haven’t taken it on the motorway yet where I am told the engine engages directly with the front wheels rather than charging the battery. It is all very seamless and you don’t actually know about the changes until you see the animation.
So onto the paddles. They don’t actuate the brake lights which I cant see being a big problem as the effect is not as significant at high speeds. The little bit of town driving I have done so far has turned into a game of not using the brakes. My theory was that B5 was going to be the default setting where the maximum charging benefit would be gained. This does not pan out into practice and I can see why they have gone with paddles to change this setting. The Prius does not have any such setting and I think it looses out for not having it. However the Prius is now old tech and it is well over due a revamp which in my opinion should include a similar system.
I have evolved my use of the re-gen braking. Initially I was using B5 the whole time, but found my self having to drive down hill, so after realising this I changed to coasting on B1 and in a similar way to how the brushers scrub the ice in curling – i was scrubbing the speed with the paddles to predict my coming to halt with the obstacle. This requires a significant amount of fore sight and anticipation, good for safety, but requires a lot more focus than the auto-pilot setting my brain is used to.
This becomes more problematic if someone is behind you as I consider using the brakes as wasted energy. So there is a balance to be had of not using the brakes and being considerate of others. I can see in the future that higher levels of re-generation being attached to brake lights.