Bloody cars

I had an LPG converted Astra for 3 1/2 years and did 70000 miles in it. I reckon it saved me £3000 in fuel. Sold it in Feb this year with 93000 on the clock. I was getting fed up with having to drive further than I ought in order to get cheap fuel, and BP / Shell were into the ripoff game, putting the price up in line with petrol even though there is (was?) no excise duty on LPG.

I replaced it with a Prius. I agree that the Prius does not live up to the manufacturer’s mpg claims, but what car ever does? Mine is a 1999 non-hatchback model, imported last October and bought on ebay. Loads of the displays are in Japanese, but these cars are quite popular in N. Zealand and there are some very good websites to help overcome the language problem.

Last fill-up: 35.71 litres after 428 miles (54.5 mpg).

You do gain in motorway driving, but you have to accept that driving a hybrid requires some modifications to your driving technique compared to a “normal” car. Sometimes you can only take full advantage of the hybrid’s qualities when there are no other road users to impede, e.g. coasting to roundabouts to take them at 25mph. It takes an awful long time to lose 60mph momentum and everyone else is in the habit of hitting the brakes late, i.e. wasting all that energy they have spent a fortune generating.

The constant variable transmission is superb and the acceleration at higher speeds quite dramatic for a “boring” 1500 engine. Two power sources, you see!

Onset of arthritis was another reason for me wanting an automatic.

Verdict: I’m delighted with it. I’m getting about 52mpg but that is actually increasing as we all become more accustomed to the different driving technique. I haven’t had it serviced yet and I am aware that there are quite a few 1.9 diesels around which will get similar mpg to mine, but I’ve been down that route too and bloody diesels (or at least, my bloody diesels!) have been very expensive to service.

Biggest drawback: Japanese radio channels are all around the 70 Mhz level, so you have to fit a band expander to pick up British stations. This was already fitted, but the reception is pretty patchy.

The one nagging doubt remains. Isn’t a hybrid just a cop-out, still feeding the hydrocarbon addiction when with a (not massive) lifestyle change I could do without a car all together?