It seems a long time since I wrote an entry on this blog series – in fact, it is a long time. I hadn’t forgotten about the blog it was simply that I had very little to say. When we ordered the car we were told that there was an estimated 6 months wait until we would receive it. Well, after six months we still hadn’t got any progress. Then, we started getting expected build dates – I think in total we had about 6 different dates. Each time one date approached it was then changed to another a couple of months away. Eventually, we got a confirmed build date – week beginning 13th February 2023. After the car was built there seemed to be a long delay at the port of exit and finally we picked up the car on Saturday 29th April 2023. A massive 18 months and 9 days from the date we ordered it. So now, as we’ve had the car for 4 weeks I thought I’d update you on our initial thoughts.
We really like how the car handles. It sits well on the road and feels very stable. It manoeuvres well – it goes where you want it to. There’s really nice little touches such as the electric seats which move back to give you more space when you want to leave the car and when you sit in the car you simply have to press the break pedal and the seat moves forward and into your desired driving position. There’s also a massage function – which to be honest, apart from pressing it to see what it felt like, we haven’t used but I suspect we will use it on a long journey. There’s other little touches too like the car automatically starts when you sit in the drivers seat. And when you leave the car, it shuts itself down. And I nearly forgot – There’s a light which shows you if there’s someone in your “blind spot”.
This is where it can get a bit complicated. According to the sales brochures the WLTP figure for the car is up to 264 miles of range. But, driving style, geography, weather, car battery heat, air conditioning, etc, can all affect your range. To give an example: when I leave our house and drive out of our village it is all downhill – so we get a fantastically high miles per kilowatt hour (mi/kWh). When we return home and have to drive uphill our mi/kWh reduces significantly. However, I have worked it out and we are getting nearly 260 miles of range – which we’re delighted with as we’ve never had a car that gets anywhere near the “official” economy figures. One car we had gave us 50 mph whereas the “official” figure was 70 mph. Perhaps once we’ve tried a few longer runs (on flatter roads) I’ll be able to get a better idea of economy then.
As for range, well, we’d already made the decision that when we’re going on longer journeys we were going to have to bear in mind the following:
We rapidly came to the conclusion that in reality we’d probably stop somewhere, plug the car in and then go find the nearest cafe to take care of the other things.
Over time, we’ll see how that theory works out and I will update you on a blog.
One of the things we have got used to is the lane assist. This keeps us in the middle of the lane we are driving on. As we have both passed our IAM (now IAM Roadsmart) Advanced Driving Test we tend to take different positions on the road depending on corner direction etc. This does conflict a bit with what the car wants us to do but, in the main, the car assist system isn’t too obtrusive. One thing that we are quite impressed with is that it can also recognise the verge as being the edge of the road which is useful as so many of the roads in this area don’t have white lines at the left hand edge.
The car also “reads” road speed limit signs – and takes action on them. So, if it sees a change in speed limit eg to 20 mph, it slows the car down to that speed. This is really freaky when you’re planning to break and the car has already started doing it for you. There are a couple of road signs that it doesn’t read well – they’re either on a corner or are partially obscured by plants. So that’s understandable. It also can identify when there are things such as junctions and roundabouts coming up and helpfully applies the breaks for those too. While I do find this feature a bit freaky, I do quite like it.
There’s an assistant in the car, who listens in and when it thinks you are asking for help buts in and asks how it can help. I found that really annoying in the first few days as I’d be saying “I don’t know how to do that but we’ll work it out” and she (its a female voice) then asks if she can help. In the end I switched it off so it no longer listens and if I want it I can press a button on the steering wheel and tell her what I want to do. I suspect in a few months time I might switch it on to see how we get on with it then.
Emergency stops. Yep, it can decide when you’re being really stupid and decides to intervene. I think this is best to describe with an example. My husband was driving and following the local road cycling group at a very safe distance. He decided to over take so he positioned himself on the road, accelerated slightly getting ready to make the manoeuvre. The car decided he was going faster than the cyclists in front and did an emergency stop. No big deal, he just accelerated and passed them safely.
Which brings me onto me panicking the poor car. We were on a piece of road where there was a slip lane to the left. Due to the road design the slip lane is really short and narrow. It happily let me go into the lane and then it read the traffic lights. As the light for our lane was quite badly positioned it didn’t see that it had a green filter arrow and we had right of way. Instead it read the red light for the other lanes. Obviously it did what it had been programmed to do – and tried its very best to stop me. I was very insistent with the accelerator and made it through the junction. Thankfully I had already turned the assistant off or I’m sure she would have been making some comment.
One of the features I really, really like is the cruise control. We’ve had that on previous cars but it was very obtrusive and we ended up not using it. This is the polar opposite. It’s really easy to set, and pretty much does everything for you. If a car overtakes and cuts in, the cruise control happily slows us down so there’s a safe distance between the car and ourselves. If we encounter a change in speed limit – it takes care of our speed. The only little niggle is the A9. Because lorries are allowed to drive at 50 mph on that road there are information signs all along the route. And yes, our car reads those and takes our speed down to 50 mph. However, its easy to over-ride to that we stay at the correct speed. I also realised, I can use it in a built up area too.
Reverse parking is now made really easy. We did have a rear camera in our last car which I tended to use. However, this camera is really quite different. For a start, it’s nicely positioned under the boot handle which means that it is kept nice and clean and doesn’t gather all the dirt from the road. The guiding lines are better too. I now know that if I line them up then my car is straight. No better a test of this is reversing up my mothers drive. That was a nightmare in our last car as nothing seems to line up. However, this camera allows me to reverse beautifully. There is also a front camera (that gave me a fright the first time I saw it) which seems to appear if you are in a close spot and need to manoeuvre out. There are also front, rear and side sensors which are very useful.
After spending all the waiting time saying I don’t think I’ll use the proximity locking, I am now using it. One of the settings can be set so that it will automatically unlock when you approach the car (assuming you have the key within range). The other is where it identifies you approaching but you have to lock/unlock the door by touching various parts of the door handle. It is this later version that I use. Needless to say, I always make sure I have the key on my person before I lock this (I wonder how many times I’ll forget).
We also have the heads up display – which when you use it with the navigation system is brilliant. I thought from the videos I’d seen that it would be overpowering. But it’s not. It’s really very discrete and helpful. It would probably make me use the navigation system more.
I haven’t charged it on a public charger yet, although we both know we need to do that soon. We have a charger at home and it works with our solar panels. It works well and we’ve managed to get it up to our max (80% to protect the battery).
One feature that I didn’t think would be of any use to us is where it receives signals from other cars to warn of delays on the route. After all, we live in the Scottish Highlands – not exactly known for its congestion. Except we’ve already had two occasions where the car has warned us of delays, how long the delay would be and confirmed that we were still on the best route. Strangely enough, I now quite like the feature.
This is the system which allows you to control all the settings on the car. It covers not just the assistance settings but any setting including the radio, media player, climate controls etc. The infotainment system is much better than I expected. When the car was first released all I saw were journalists moaning about it and how complicated it was to use. Perhaps its the way my brain is wired but its perfectly logical and very intuitive. I genuinely can’t see what the problem is, so I do wonder if they took the criticism on board, have had a rewrite since its introduction and have ended up with something that’s much better.
One thing that was daunting me was the Over The Air updates. This is where you receive software or setting updates remotely via a sim card in the car. Since we got the car we’ve had two very minor updates and they went fine. So, that has built my confidence about any of the larger ones. However, a lifetime of working with computers has taught me not to be in a rush to update once we do receive one – rather wait and let other people find all the bugs.
There’s still other features that we haven’t used yet. So, once we do, I’ll include them in another blog entry. Except for park assist. I think it’s a step too far for me to allow the car to park itself, either in a parallel park or reverse park. But, who knows, perhaps one day I will use it.
So, as a recap we are very pleased with the car. It has lots of features that help us in our day to day driving. You can easily over-ride a feature if it is doing something you don’t want it to do. Overall, our driving experience is safer.
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