Autovolt Magazine

Wk10 & 11. Wales and driving sans plug

Another week goes by with the Optima PHEV and in many ways, testament to the car is the fact there’s precious little to report. The car just keeps on rewarding me with nothing exciting to say. Had this been any lesser car, there might have been mention of the odd gripe – and don’t get me wrong, the Optima PHEV isn’t perfect, but there’s next to nothing to report.

So, I felt that I should put the car out of its comfort zone, i.e. by running the battery completely flat and seeing what fuel consumption was like.

Setting the satnav for mid-west Wales, the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), near Machynlleth, displayed 200-miles on the dash. Initially I used the car’s in-built mapping system, which works well but later I switched to Android Auto – for no real benefit other than one small thing. The steering wheel mounted ‘voice command’ button doesn’t work without Android Auto plugged in. It’s a minor annoyance, although I’ve been in other Kia that didn’t support Android Auto and the ‘voice command’ button worked very well.

Even disabling Android Auto from the ‘settings’ menu didn’t change anything. So, to talk to the car, either Android Auto or Apple Car Play should be used. The only real improvement being that you’re then able to call people using hands free or navigate to another destination without taking your eyes off the road. Unfortunately, Android Auto appears to be in the dark ages with respect to texting. Incoming texts were silent, although they did occasionally display on the Android Auto home screen, but to get them to play I’ve not yet worked out an automated or voice command way to achieve this. My old and apparently out-of-fashion Windows Phone 8.1 with Cortana could do this in its sleep. So much for progress!

Kia Optima PHEV in Wales

The route to Wales was almost exactly 200-miles, or a 400-mile return trip. There was opportunity to charge the car at CAT, but it was occupied by a Nissan Leaf that would be plugged in for who-knows how long. So, the only charge the car had for the entire time in Wales was before we had left St Albans.

When setting off, the car’s overall average fuel economy since new was a healthy 96.4mpg, over the course of some 1,500 miles on the odometer. Following the 200-mile trip to Wales, some journeys around Machynlleth and Aberdovey, and then the return journey of another 200-miles, the fuel economy dipped to an overall average of 88.6mpg.