Like most us, I love the idea of electric cars. It is, most definitely, the future. No doubt.
They’re obviously far better for the environment, and for our health. But, I’m not a car expert. The workings under the bonnet are a mystery to me, and a lot of the techs’n’specs about cars go over my head.
What I do know is what works for me and my family. Space, comfort and reliability. So, for all the other stuff, I need to rely on other people who know their stuff. Experts.
Fortunately for people like me, Taggarts are a car company offering both the knowledge of electric cars, and the cars themselves. They arranged for me to borrow an electric vehicle for a day to check out the experience for myself.
When they told me I’d be test driving a Range Rover, I was obviously excited, but also surprised. Range Rovers are traditionally luxurious powerhouses. I didn’t equate such high performance vehicles with electric motors, but the Range Rover Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) looked amazing.
The staff at the Taggarts Land Rover dealership had charged the car up for me. They explained to me that the PHEV combines an advanced 2l 300 hp petrol engine with a high capacity 85kW electric motor. It switched between the different modes, or a combination of them, to deliver a powerful combination, with far better CO2 emission figures than its petrol-only counterparts. Apparently, you can charge it overnight using a domestic power socket, or use public charging cables that are popping up everywhere.
I was a little anxious. It was my first time driving an electric car, and my first time driving a Range Rover. The staff put me at ease. I was shown to the car, and set on my way.
It was obvious from the moment that I put the kid’s car seats in that the Range Rover PHEV came with a serious amount of space. My own Ford C-Max fits the car seats in well, but in this car, the kids could actually swing their legs. (It is true that there is a price step up when moving from the C-Max to the Range Rover. It isn’t the cheapest, but the quality is right there for all to see.) The centre seat, between the kid’s two bulky car seats, had enough room for a third person to sit comfortably. This, and the massive boot, places the PHEV firmly in the luxury family car bracket.
Driving the car is an amazing experience. I wasn’t prepared for just how quiet the electric engine is. I powered up the car, and was unsure if it was actually on until I carefully accelerated. Yes, it was on, and smooth as silk. The PHEV’s dashboard oozed quality and luxury. Seat warming controls, an electric speedometer (with the speed limit helpfully displayed underneath), a practical media centre, an impressive built-in sat-nav, video screens / cameras for reverse parking, and a display showing how much charge I had left and what kind of power I was using. The kids loved the full-length electric sun roof. Very impressive.
I drove through the centre of Glasgow where, to be blunt, vehicle pollution is a huge issue. The electric motor performed perfectly with the stop-start of city driving, and opened up beautifully when I switched onto a dual carriageway. You’re high up in a Range Rover. The improved vantage point is reassuring. It feels like a safe car.
We drove in our futuristic electric hybrid to the Riverside museum by the Clyde. The museum details the history of vehicles, so it seemed like a perfect place to visit. I was looking at the horse-drawn carts and public trams and wondered what their passengers would have made of the Range Rover, and the ever-expanding range of quiet, efficient, luxurious electric vehicles we have today.
I’ve taken away quite a lot of my experience with the Range Rover PHEV. Firstly, the staff at Taggarts Land Rover know their stuff. A combination of friendly and knowledgeable is gold when you’re looking for advice. Secondly, electric vehicles are an incredibly smooth drive, and only offer improvements on their old petrol/diesel-only cousins. Finally, I’ve discovered just how refined Range Rovers are. Unfortunately, I had to hand mine back. The kids were not happy!
As I mentioned earlier, electric is far better for the environment. Those using the car for the school runs will find significant savings in only using the electric options. I’ve been left extremely impressed!