ELECTRIC Vehicles (EVs) are in a lot of people’s minds just now, yet there remains a significant group of motorists including me who don't want to change. We see the need for electrification, but just don't want the limitations.
For those like me, though, Vauxhall's most sophisticated Astra yet, the Astra Plug-in Hybrid-e, might just be the answer. It joins the growing plug-in electric vehicle sub-sector of the family hatchback segment, which includes the VW Golf, Skoda Octavia, Seat Leon, Peugeot 308, the DS4, and the even more expensive Audi A3 and Mercedes A-Class. So why might the Astra be the answer?
When driven there is that EV feel you get as you start up and pull off in eerie silence, and it’s nice to know that most of your town driving will be done emissions-free. The powertrain on offer is the 1.6 litre turbo petrol unit, producing 148bhp aligned to a single electric motor delivering the same output, the combined maximum being 178bhp. There's an eight-speed auto gearbox, and the electric motor is powered by a 12.4kWh battery which can take the car up to 43 miles on electricity alone. That doesn’t sound like much, but it’s more than most of us do daily, and 0 to 62mph can be achieved in 9.3 seconds on the way to a top speed of 140mph.
From the outside there's no real way to guess that this is a plug-in hybrid car, which is good. There are sparkling LED headlights which are upgradable and larger wheel arches housing bigger rims. Inside, the Astra is radical. Vauxhall have banished buttons, instead it’s based around a sophisticated centre dash and instrument screens, but don’t let that put you off, it is simple to master. There’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone-mirroring and the option of a head-up display.
Driving support comes from state-of-the-art assistance systems, including semi-automated assistance systems and a 360-degree camera. There is extended traffic sign recognition, rear cross-traffic alert, and active lane positioning, which keeps the car in the middle of the driving lane, keeping you safe.
From a household plug, the car battery can be replenished in five and a half hours, 3.5 hours on a 3.6 KW home wall box or public charger, and just two hours on a 7kW home wall box. This tasty little car stands out in its class, it’s stylish to look at and great to drive. Decades of company reps could never have imagined that one day an Astra would be like this. But then they never could have imagined that it could cost over £32,000 either.
Latest Chelsea Tractor model will do the job both on- and off-road
ALONGSIDE the 90 and 110, Land Rover has added the Defender 130 to their family of all-terrain vehicles. The 130 allows customers to effortlessly transport up to eight people across any terrain and is a great demonstration of the Defender’s range. A host of exterior and interior design enhancements and technologies distinguish it, balancing comfort with durability and capability.
Interior design features new colour and material options with the latest connected technologies, including a new, larger 11.4-inch touchscreen, standard Electronic Air Suspension and Cabin Air Purification provide support in this modern off-roader. The 130 is available in HSE, X-Dynamic SE, X-Dynamic HSE and X specifications, in addition to a First Edition. The First Edition model has an extensive equipment list including Matrix LED headlamps, heated second and third-row seating, four-zone climate control, Meridian Surround Sound, Driver Assist Pack and privacy glass. All feature 20-inch alloy wheels as standard, with a choice of P400 petrol or D300 diesel six-cylinder powertrains. Mild-Hybrid Electric Vehicle (MHEV) technology underpins these powertrains, providing seamless responses as well as enhanced fuel economy.
All Defenders with keyless entry feature Approach Unlock and Automated Walkaway Lock which is activated around a 1.5 metre range.
Black roof rails are fitted as standard with Defender’s full range of exterior accessories, including the Explorer, Adventure, Country, and Urban packs. Additional touches ensure a comfortable experience in the third row, including heated seats, padded armrests, storage, and USB-C provision to charge devices on the move. Large windows provide excellent visibility in all three rows of seating while the standard-fit panoramic glass sunroof, is complemented by a second sunroof above row three, making the interior light and airy for everyone. Defender 130 provides a spacious and practical load area, with up to 3,893 litres of cargo volume even with the rearmost seats in place. When the seats are not in use, they stow to create a large loading area, giving the ultimate choice in configuring the interior arrangement that best suits their needs. It’s not a cheap car, with prices starting at £74.000, but it is a luxurious on- or off-roader, the latest Chelsea tractor.
Greer and Roberts are back in the frame after dominant victory in Cookstown Rally
CARRYDUFF’S Jonny Greer, partnered by Welshman Dai Roberts, put themselves right back in the fight for the NI championship by sealing a dominant victory at the MJE Wheel Repair Specialists Tyrone Stages Rally – round four of the McGrady Insurance NI Rally Championship.
Greer and Roberts moved into the lead in their R5 Citroen C3 after the second stage and never looked back. They set fastest times on six of the nine stages to claim victory by 17.1 seconds. Initially, it was Desi Henry and Paddy Robinson who were fastest in their Ford Fiesta WRC but mechanical trouble on the second stage put him out of the rally. Declan Boyle and Philip Allen were expected to be among the front runners, but they crashed out of the rally on the first stage in another Fiesta WRC, but there was no such trouble for Greer. After retiring from the previous round, the reigning champion knew he had to finish strongly to keep his Championship hopes alive.
After moving into the lead, Greer set about building an advantage over his rivals of almost eight seconds after the first loop of stages. That advantage was almost doubled after the second loop, leaving him with a challenge-free run to the finish line. In second for the second round in succession were Cathan McCourt and Liam Moynihan in a Fiesta WRC followed by Peadar Hurson and Damien Connolly who just managed to hold on to third after they stalled their Fiesta WRC at the start of the final stage. Hurson finished 1.7s head of the Skoda of Daniel Barry and Lorcan Moore in fourth. Alan Carmichael and Arthur Kierans rallied to finish fifth in a Fiesta, sixth overall was Derek McGarrity, which ensures the Glengormley driver stays at the head of the championship table. Derek had clutch problems, but his team changed the Polo’s clutch in just 25 minutes! Whilst McGarrity remains at the top of the table with one round remaining, dropped scores are still to come into play, so Jonny Greer effectively enters the final round as the favourite for success. A top six finish at July’s Down Rally would be enough to seal the spoils for Greer. In seventh place was Jason Mitchell with Joe McGonigle finishing eighth. In ninth was Ryan Loughran in a MkII Escort and Aaron McLaughlin rounded out the top ten. The final round is the Down Rally on July 23.