Want to save money and the world? Time to go electric
In Skellefteå, where families need to balance sustainability with the need for practical transport, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) emerge as the ideal choice for a family car. Paul Connolly reports on two of the best at Gustafssons Bil
The unique combination of reduced fossil fuel dependency and extended driving range makes PHEVs a perfect fit for busy families, addressing their particular needs while aligning with their eco-friendly aspirations.
For those families who live in Skellefteå city, a PHEV, with a battery range of 55 km-65 km, can offer daily electric-only commuting and school runs. This offers a huge reduction in running costs (not to mention being advantageous for the environment). If you choose to go for a weekend spin into the mountains, having a petrol engine also gives you a much greater range and flexibility.
Those of us who choose to live in Skellefteå’s rural areas also benefithugely from using hybrid electric vehicles. While test-driving two PHEVs from Gustafssons Bil our fuel consumption when commuting daily from south of Burträsk to Skellefteå (a round-trip of 120 kms), plummeted from 8.2 liters per 100kms to just 1.8 liters per 100kms. From spending around 1,080 SEK a week on fuel to just 233 SEK a week, is a remarkable reduction.
Indeed with these hybrids, we never panicked about running out of battery power, because we had a petrol-engine back up. Both cars were also proper, comfortable family SUVs, packed with helpful tech and safety features, not tiny tinny toddler electric cars with barely room for one person. Both cars comfortably handled two parents. a trunk full of shopping, two 10-year-olds, and the occasional stray friend or two of theirs.
Our first test-drive was the Hyundai Tucson, a handsome beast of a vehicle, and one of the finest cars in the compact SUV category.
It’s notably spacious, surpassing the cargo capacity of most of its SUV rivals, while providing comparable passenger-carrying capacity. Moreover, it boasts a vastly superior interior compared to its competitors. The infotainment and safety technology features, especially, are vastly improved from previous models – even the basic model has easily enough tech goodies for most drivers.
Absolute cinch to park
There’s also more space than you’d think – for a compact SUV, this is a capacious car. As well as offering plenty of room for tall adults (I’m 190cms and had plenty of headroom), we comfortably fitted a rear-facing child seat while still having plenty of space up front for the driver and passenger. Driving the Tucson is fun, too. It grips the surface on country roads with surprising ease – there’s no wallowing and pitching as with many SUVs. With its light, nimble steering it’s also an absolute cinch to park. I already miss that car.
But, to be fair, I miss the second car, too.
The Mazda CX-60is a very handsome-looking car – a little like a baby Range Rover. The car attracted lots of admiring glances while I was driving it (yes, I’m pretty sure it was the car, not me). It also has an impressive interior, especially the front cabin, which has a very premium, luxurious feel to it. Mazda seem to be aiming at the BMW and Audi market with this car, and they’ve hit a bullseye on the design and comfort front. However, it’s also lovely to drive, a smooth operator that packs a punch, too, if you need it. It adheres to the road greedily, and, with its parking cameras, is also simple to park.
Scores high on space
Where the Mazda scores highly is on space. It has a long wide trunk that swallows shopping and my girlfriend’s professional photography gear, and the passenger cabin, front and rear, are spacious (it also passed the rear-facing child seat test). Like the Hyundai, it’s a terrific family car.
Its tech is also an integral part of the allure. The entertainment system features Apple Airplay and Android Auto and the optional ‘Driver Assistance Pack’, features ‘High Beam Control’, which switches automatically between high and low beams, with the high beam adjusting automatically to avoid dazzling oncoming drivers. As winter approaches, when we’ll all have to be constantly dipping our full beam, this feature is a real joy. Another PHEV winner, then.
If pushed, which car would I plump for? Can I say both?