EV Roadtrip: 30kwh LEAF Pt2

As mentioned in the previous post, we found ourselves with 98 miles to travel to the rapid charger at Chester in the 30kwh LEAF due to the intermediate one having broken. I was very concerned, after a near-failure involving a Volkswagen e-UP! last year. In that, I only just managed to make it home from the rapid charger at Oswestry.

As it happens, I needn’t have worried. There was no drama. In the LEAF, we sailed past said rapid charger with 77 miles of range still showing! I had enough juice to turnaround and drive back home if I’d fancied it. We were off to Liverpool though, so I didn’t do that.

First rapid charge, after 98 miles of driving.

First rapid charge, after 98 miles of driving.

Now, I wasn’t doing anything special to boost economy in the LEAF, though perhaps I was deploying a few small tricks. For a start, I was in ECO mode. This makes the air conditioning less power draining, decreases the throttle response and reduces the total amount of power you can access. We needed the air conditioning throughout the journey, as the conditions were horrific! Lots of rain, so lots of headlamp and wiper use too. That was fine really, as I wanted to test the car in everyday conditions.

The other trick was gentle acceleration. I’d estimate that I was getting up to 60mph about as quickly as my 2CV manages it – a 0-60mph time of 30 seconds. Acceleration batters your range, whether in an EV or a combustion-engined car. It’s why you always get better economy on a long run – it generally involves more travelling at a consistent speed.

You know when you’re driving well, as you start acquiring ‘trees’ on the dashboard. I’m not sure how they actually work, but found it quite easy to amass a veritable forest.

A veritable forest. But what does it mean?

A veritable forest. But what does it mean?

I refused to actually lower my speed so, where traffic allowed, I would do 60mph if that was the legal limit, and I increased that to 70mph on the motorway once we reached it. This was the most enjoyable aspect of this. The e-NV200 roadtrip had seen us cruising along at a miserable 50-60mph on the motorway, often freezing cold as we desperately tried to eke out every bit of range. I was being spoilt in the LEAF. Range anxiety just wasn’t an issue.

Well, that’s not entirely true. At the start of our journey, which saw us climb over the Cambrian Mountains, the range did drop down to 88 miles, when we had 88 miles left to cover. Experience has taught me not to stress in such circumstances though. By the time we reached Newtown, 30 miles away, the range was back up to the 105 miles it had been predicting before we set off. This highlights that the range is only a guide really. It can’t hope to predict how you’ll drive, nor how hilly the terrain is.

I’ll do a proper review of the LEAF later, but I was certainly enjoying driving it. When I first drove one in November 2013, it was a frustrating experience. It felt like a great car for covering distance, but I wasn’t within range of any rapid chargers at all at that time. I was stranded in mid-Wales. As cars go, it couldn’t be more simple really. There’s a go pedal, and a stop pedal and a steering wheel.

The biggest downside to the Oswestry charger being down is that we now had to go out of our way to find power. A quick trek along the M56 was necessary to access the pair of chargers at Roadchef Chester. As we arrived, one charger seemed to be getting glued back together by a chap in a French-registered van, but a second charger was free and ready to use.

Rapid charger being 'glued' back together.

Rapid charger being ‘glued’ back together.

The charging process is as follows. Press the fuel flap release, which unlocks the small panel in the nose. Flick open the cover on the main charging point (there are two, the smaller one is used for smaller chargers ie home use). Grab the DC rapid charging ‘gun’ (the charger has three cables) otherwise known as ChaDeMo (Volkswagen and some other manufacturers use CCS, for which there is a different cable). Now, press DC charging on the machine present your Ecotricy charge card (the Nissan press car came with one, but you can order one yourself. There is currently (June 2016) no charge). Wait for it to initialise, then the charging will begin.

We’d been driving for over two hours by this point, at an average of over 40mph, so we were due a break ourselves. We brought along tea and cold toast, because motorway services are generally horrible and expensive (Gloucester and Tebay excepted). That is one downside of EVs. Most of the rapid chargers are at motorway services, which are almost universally grim places in which to spend time.

After 20 minutes, the battery was up to 72%. As well as having greater range, it seems the 30kwh LEAF also charges more quickly. Sadly, I didn’t note down what the battery percentage was when we arrived, but I’d estimate it to be below 20%. We still had 24 miles of range left, having driven 98 miles (the car was wrong, Google maps called it correctly!) to get to the charger. Given the claimed 124 miles of range, that was pretty good going!

You’ll note we didn’t charge up to 100%. There are several reasons for that. Firstly, we couldn’t be bothered to wait. We had enough to get to our next destination, why waste time? Secondly, the last 20% of the battery cannot be charged as quickly as the previous 80%. As the battery fills, it’s harder to squeeze the last bit in, so it could have taken a very long time to charge. Thirdly, it’s better for the battery not to repeatedly charge it beyond 80%. On the e-NV200 roadtrip, we had no choice. We often needed 100% (or close to it) to get from one charger to the next. Now, we had the luxury of not bothering.

I disconnected, with the car now predicting 88 miles of range. We headed to Liverpool and only got slightly annoyed at the sat nav. It isn’t actually very clear to read in city conditions, and was sometimes too slow to react to our actual road position. An one point, I had to drive through a seriously flooded section. It was nice not to have an engine air intake to worry about…

We overnighted in Liverpool, leaving the car in a general car park. We could have perhaps found somewhere with a charge point, but we’d be passing a rapid charger in the morning. That would do.

Overall though, is it impressive that I managed to cover 98 miles with out recharging? Well, against a combustion-engined car, no it isn’t. However, it does make the LEAF feel a lot more valid. 98 miles was enough for a couple of hours of driving, after which we were very keen to stop anyway. Does that mean everyone should get an EV? No. It just means the limitations are perhaps less limiting now. A bigger test would be driving back home via Bradford, and covering over 300 miles in a day. That’ll be the next installment. Stay tuned!


EV Roadtrip: 30kwh Nissan LEAF Pt1

I haven’t conducted a proper EV roadtrip for a while, so I thought it was about time I had another go. My previous roadtrip, in a Nissan e-NV200 Combi, wasn’t very enjoyable at all. Can the new 30kwh LEAF do a better job?

We need to cover 98 miles to the nearest charger...

We need to cover 98 miles to the nearest charger…

Firstly, let’s talk range. Even driving gently, I struggled to get more than 60 miles out of the e-NV200 between charges. That was against a claimed range of 106 miles. To be fair, I was conducting the test in November, so heater use was denting range, but it was still pretty poor.

The LEAF should stand a better chance. It has a claimed range of 124 miles, which is probably closer in reality to the 106 claimed for the e-NV200. Anecdotal evidence certainly suggests so. The other advantages are a larger battery back (30kwh to 24kwh), better aerodynamics and heat-pump heater technology – not that we should need it, being summer. Allegedly.

I’ll certainly be testing the range pretty thoroughly, and not out of choice. We’re off to Liverpool today, and the first rapid charger along the route is broken. It seems The Electric Highway is sadly still not entirely fit for purpose. Where this charger is located, there are no less than 16 pumps for internal combustion engines. If one of those breaks, it’s hardly the end of the world.

As it happens, I now have to try and get to a rapid charger near Chester, on the M56. That’s 98 miles away, so the challenge is definitely on!

First up, here’s a bit about the test vehicle. It’s Acenta spec, which is the lowest available with the 30kwh battery – you can have a Visia with the 24kwh battery and a few less toys. The on the road price, not including any plug-in grant, is a smidge under £30,000. The paperwork doesn’t confirm whether that price includes the Magnetic Red metallic paint – my favourite colour. The spec includes a reversing camera, heat pump heating and air con, lots of electric toys, auto headlamps and wipers, keyless entry and a 3.3kw on-board charger.

That latter point is worth bearing in mind. It means that it can’t charge particularly quickly at some smaller AC chargers, such as the ones you can have installed at home. There is an optional 6.6kw charger, but that seems to be about another £1500! Some people don’t consider that worth paying, and here’s why.

There are three basic charging options. 13amp plug, fast charger and rapid charger. The spec of the on-board charger only affects the fast charger option – typically a 16amp supply, or 32 if you’ve gone for the bigger charger. The sort of charge points you’ll find that use this are at home, in some car parks and even roadside in towns.

I probably won’t use that facility at all. I’ll either be charging at home via the 13 amp plug, or using rapid chargers, which supply over 100amps at several hundred volts. That should get the LEAF’s battery up to 80% charge in around half an hour – it’ll be interesting to see how the real-life experience tallies with expectation. 80% charge should be good for 80 miles and once I’m on The Electric Highway, that should be more than enough to get to the next station and/or destinations.

I’ll be live tweeting my experiences at http://www.twitter.com/dollywobbler and will, of course, be reporting back on here once the journey is complete. There will be video too. If you’ve got any questions about the LEAF, now is the time to ask!

My Perfect Saturday Pt1

Ok, so having a 7am alarm and actually waking up 45 minutes before said alarm would not go down as a perfect start to a perfect day for a lot of people, but Rachel made me a cup of tea for me to consume while still in my bed, and that seemed to set the scene for a rather lovely day.

A car in which I had many funs. As you can see.

A car in which I had many funs. As you can see. It was spotlessly clean when I left home…

The plan was to head to a car auction in Staffordshire, where I would meet fellow Autoshiters for a game. That game is pick seven cars, in seven different categories and aim to ‘spend’ as little as possible by following the hammer prices. Autoshiters were heading down from as far away as Glasgow just to take part – one hero drove down from Glasgow, in a Citroen AX! He left at about 3am. Crikey.

I only had a two-hour drive by comparison, and it should have been easy. However, I hurled my sat nav away after it refused to acknowledge the existence of Cannock and so would rely on my memory. Naturally, I didn’t have a map in the car. Despite this, I decided to see if I could remember the scenic route from Newtown to Shrewsbury that ignores the A458 via Welshpool for some rather more entertaining roads.

This plan had only one significant failing. I took the wrong road from Newtown and ended up heading south. I knew Builth Wells really was in the wrong direction so quickly took the B4355 from Dolfor to Knighton. I was in Knighton yesterday, so I knew I didn’t really want to be heading in that direction either, but it was better than Builth.

Only my Honda doesn't have VTEC Mr Yo.

Only my Honda doesn’t have VTEC Mr Yo. I acquired some graffiti.

By golly! This road is INCREDIBLE! You are never travelling in a straight line. It’s just bend after bend, with altitude changes thrown in for good measure. Fortunately for me, I was in exactly the right car too – my Honda Prelude 2.0i automatic, purchased this very week. Driving on the motorway to get the car home hadn’t really given me chance to discover just how good it is, but now was its chance to truly shine.

The steering is just perfect. The weighting of it could not be better, and assistance just helps. It somehow doesn’t managed to rob too much feel. Yet it’s also wonderfully direct, so you don’t have to turn the wheel very far. The rather firm suspension which had been bothering me, was now absolutely ideal. The Prelude felt taught and responsive, and changed direction beautifully. It was really starting to inspire confidence, and I shocked myself a few times as I exited a corner and glanced at the speedometer!

This was despite me holding back somewhat due to the conditions. Mud and water do not make an ideal racetrack. Public roads are dangerous places to hoon. I was having to rein in my enthusiasm a little. Drive quickly, but not too quickly.

I’m not sure if I’m just getting older and more accepting, or whether I really have finally started to buy cars that I really enjoy driving, but this was truly something special. There’s very little I’ve driven from the past 20 years of production that manages to convey this feeling of utter joy.

You’d think the automatic gearbox would be a hindrance but far from it. I didn’t bother with sport mode, but I just flicked into third gear on the approach to tight-looking bends. It saves the brakes form overwork and gives much better control, ensuring you’re already in the right gear when you want to apply power rather than waiting for the gearbox to catch up. Amazingly, the gearbox is happy to use the torque of the engine, and I found I only went above 3000rpm on steep climbs. Like the XM, this makes it relaxing while also remarkably quick. But it feels much more nimble than the XM – the big Citroen always feels big. And heavy. It’s remarkably capable for a luxurious barge, but a barge it truly is – one with a lot of weight up front.

At Knighton, I joined the A488 which heads via the painfully pretty town of Clun and on towards Shrewsbury. This road had plenty to recommend it too with some seriously sharp corners lurking to catch out the unwary. By the time I reached Shrewsbury, I was exhausted! It had been one of the best drives of my life, and I still wasn’t anywhere near the end of my journey. Now the Prelude could just waft along at motorway speeds with no drama at all.

Rover Honda

Both 2-litre, but worlds apart. 60bhp vs 133!

It gave me chance to reflect on the morning’s experience so far. It made me realise that overlooking the 2-litre, especially in slushbox form, is utterly wrong. Would I have had as much or more fun in a manual VTEC? I’m not sure I would. The VTEC effect gives a massive boost in power as you get beyond 4000rpm, but that can quickly get very tiring – not to mention illegal. 60mph can be some way in the distance very briskly indeed. I suspect that every time I got a VTEC on cam, I’d be straight on the brakes hard for the next bend.

As it was, I was using my momentum-conservation skills learned through many years of 2CVing to keep the Prelude at a good pace without the need for harsh acceleration. There really wasn’t room for it anyway! Bends were coming so thick and fast that power absolutely would not have been any advantage at all. I was having all the fun it was possible to have, while remaining at entirely legal speeds. To be honest, I was below 50mph for quite a lot of it!

I arrived in Cannock in a very dirty Prelude, which had very clean brake discs. The filth was almost a badge of honour that had been deservedly won. Though considering I’d washed the car the day before, it was a little annoying…

Part 2 to follow – auction antics! It’ll have to follow as I’ve clearly got a bit carried away here. Sorry.


My favourite videos of 2015

Excuse the self-promotion as I guide you through my favourite videos of 2015 – my favourite HubNut videos that is. 2015 was a year in which I really stepped up video production, so here are my personal highlights. This is my Top Five.

Number 5 – Nissan e-NV200 Combi

This was the first electric car that I tested long distance, and it has to be said it wasn’t exactly stress-free! Using the Ecotricity Electric Highway, I was able to drive from home in mid-Wales to Bideford in Devon. Choosing to do this in Winter, in a vehicle with a 60-mile range was the problem. This is also a review of the e-NV200 itself. A very useful vehicle but still blighted by good old range anxiety and an inefficient heater.

Number 4 – Perodua Nippa

This one joined the fleet in March, and has proved to be an ideal little runaround. This review was filmed not long after purchase and while it’s certainly a car built cheaply, it continues to run well. Listen to the road noise though!

Number 3 – My first Vlog

Vlogging appears to be a thing – video blogging – so I thought I’d have a go. This is where I began a series of (so far) ten videos. I aired some annoyances with the regime in Saudi Arabia – exacerbated by recent developments as I write – and I also talk about electric cars and the Citroen XM.

Number 2 – Honda Insight first generation

Insight rear

Testing the Honda Insight Mk1

It seems that I love every car that I drive, and I expected the Insight to be no exception. It didn’t quite do it for me, as you can see in this video. Still an appealing car, but not quite what I’d hoped for. It is proving to be a popular video though.

Number 1 – My 2CV and me

Picking one favourite is not easy. My XM V6 video continues to amass a huge number of views, and the Citroen Ami one was an absolute hoot to put together. But, my friend Keith Hicks helped me make a rather special tribute to my 2CV. I still don’t know what the future is for this car, but I’ve had many good adventures in it and I’ve loved every minute behind the wheel.

Thanks for watching. Once the weather improves, I hope to get cracking on some more videos. 2016 promises to be very exciting. Stay tuned!


Review: Volkswagen e-UP! Part Two

Having discovered just how poor the range of the Volkswagen e-UP! is, I then set about using the car in a rather more typical fashion. An awful lot of my journeys are short ones, to neighbouring villages and towns. Here, the e-UP! was just fantastic. I like having so much torque in so small a car. Great for acceleration and for climbing the great many hills in these parts.

A City car, emphatically not in a city

A City car, emphatically not in a city

Even better, the short range isn’t an issue so close to home, so I could drove the e-UP! in a much more spirited fashion – much more how I’d normally choose to drive.

In those circumstances, I was averaging around 3 to 3.2 miles per kilowatt hour, so about a mile less per kilowatt hour than when I was driving as gently as possible. I don’t feel that’s too bad at all, especially with lots of heater use and sub-zero temperatures at times.

But naturally, I got bored just testing the e-UP! on sealed surfaces, so I also indulged in a little light greenlaning. All this and more is contained within my latest video. Enjoy!

Video: Lovin’ the Landy

Currently, Land Rover says the Defender will end production in February 2016. So, I thought I’d better shoot a video on this most iconic of off-roaders.

Is it really goodbye for the Land Rover?

Is it really goodbye for the Land Rover?

That said, as I ponder in this video, it seems Land Rover actually is considering keeping it in production elsewhere in the world. Sadly, I think it would still be the end of European sales – it’s becoming a struggle to make this simple, rugged 4×4 green enough to remain in production – especially when a mere 14,000 were sold last year. While there is still a market for this simplistic icon, it’s a very small one. Japanese pick-ups are proving popular with farmers as, dare I say it, they are often (but not always) more reliable.

But, all good things must come to an end. I’ll be sad to see the Land Rover go, but many thousands of them will live on.

Dyane: The Collection Story

I’ve had to wait patiently for this collection caper, but finally, the day arrived! It was hard to plan for the day, as I wasn’t entirely sure when the paperwork would allow collection.

You see, the problem is that despite many changes to the vehicle tax system, it’s still not possible to tax a car you don’t yet own. The logbook had been lost in the mists of time for the Dyane, so I would have to wait for the logbook to arrive in my name before I could tax it. Or would I?

The DVLA kindly sent me a letter suggesting that the logbook would be processed on 17th August. I phoned on the 18th, and they were able to confirm that yes, the logbook had been processed. The Dyane was now in my name. Even better, I could tax it with them over the phone, so I didn’t have to wait for the logbook to physically arrive with my name on it. Brilliant!

A neighbour just happened to be driving to south Wales, and that proved very handy. Getting from here to Wiltshire by train is a bit of a nightmare. Seven hours or more. Getting a lift to pretty Abergavenny meant a total trip duration of five hours. That’s more like it! The first train took me to Newport.

Now, I’m not the biggest fan of rail transport, but I have to admit that I do like it as part of a car collection trip. You get to sit and watch the world go by, while that anticipation gently builds. Plus, you sometimes get to ride on trains like this!


A classic train, still in extensive frontline use.

If my research is to be believed, this particular Intercity 125, or Classic 43, was built in 1982 – so it’s not quite as old as I am. This was the first time I’d been on one since I was a child and while the scream of its Paxman Valenta V12 engine is long gone, the MTU engine fitted during a refurbishment is undeniably smooth. This is still an exceedingly fast diesel locomotive and while the four miles of the Severn Tunnel did hurt my ears, it was a very pleasurable journey to Swindon. The next train was utter rubbish though. Swings and roundabouts!

I now found myself in sunny Warminster, where the train station is ideally situated right next to a scrapyard.

Glamorous Warminster, and my little 'taxi.'

Glamorous Warminster, and my little ‘taxi.’

Gary Dicks of 2CV Imports was waiting for me in a Suzuki Wagon R. Gary has been working to get the Dyane road legal, though I hasten to point out that for a road-going Dyane, this one was very cheap! Which explains why the journey home was not without incident. I have no complaints.

Anyway, tea was consumed, cats were discussed (yes, cats rather than cars) and I was soon on my way. This was my first drive on the road in my new Dyane, and the first Dyane I’ve owned since 2002. I think. Well, ok. There was another Dyane, but it was horribly rotten and I never actually drove it! Back on topic, it was fuel time.

Citroen Dyane

The ‘can you see it’ gags have begun. First fill-up!

The bonding process began in earnest now, as she dumped a load of super unleaded down my leg. How grateful is that?! It seems in the few months that I haven’t been 2CV-ing, I forgot that you have to ease off the pressure as the tank nears being full, or fuel tends to shoot out all over the place. Oops. I treated her to super unleaded for the simple reason that the last time she was on the road, she would probably have been drinking four star. I decided higher octane might be beneficial.

As we departed Warminster, I gently increased the speed. After so long off the road, it seemed kinder to take things gently. That said, I suspected the car had remained in regular use, as it seemed to run so sweetly. I was not wrong. The previous owner rang me while I was stopped for food on the way back and explained that the Dyane had been used as a shooting hack on a farm in Montgomeryshire! It had only been laid up for a few years, some of those in a barn. More on that another time.

As the roads got twistier, the tired state of the dampers became more apparent. Unsurprising, as they’re at least 20 years old I suspect, if not older. It therefore feels a bit precarious and unpredictable in the bends – grippy still, but prone to sudden pitch and yaw that is unsettling even to a seasoned 2CVer.

Bradford-upon-Avon proved stressful, which is a shame. It was the home of Dr Alex Moulton, who developed rubber cone, hydrolastic and hydragas suspension for BMC/BL. The link? He was a compulsive Citroen owner. His bicycle company is still based in Bradford-upon-Avon.

Not that I got to enjoy that fact very much, as the Dyane was struggling to idle. In fact, she cut out several times, and several more times, I just managed to catch her with a blip of throttle to narrowly avoid more starter motor use. Fortunately, the pedals are beautifully set for heel-and-toe, which is good. I was having to operate all three pedals at once! A very useful skill.

After 20 miles, I pulled over to give the car a quick checkover before we hit the motorway, and to have a quick drink. Given the lumpy idle, I turned the engine off. This was a mistake as after my short break, she wouldn’t restart. ARSE!

Bother! 20 miles in and progress is halted.

Bother! 20 miles in and progress is halted.

Fortunately, I’m not one to panic. What’s the main reason for a 2CV refusing to hot start? Yes, a weak coil. Certainly, this one was very hot. I left the bonnet up, stretched my legs and a few minutes later, she purred into life. Phew.

Annoyingly, I went straight from this layby into another sodding traffic jam – pure coil-killing conditions and further three-pedal driving was required. That thankfully didn’t last too long, and I sound found myself racing down the sliproad to the M4.

This was a nervous moment. I’d already discovered that the engine was pinking under heavy load and that coil was causing concern too. I was taking to the motorway in a car that required a certain amount of nursing. I needn’t have worried. She was soon sailing along very comfortably at an indicated 70mph, highlighting the main difference between Dyane and 2CV. No doors flapping, far less wind noise and more space for the driver. This was actually quite pleasant!

Then it was on to the M5 up to Gloucester, then onto the A40 towards Ross-on-Wye. As we enjoyed the traffic-free A road conditions, with much hooning, I can to concede that the car seemed to be running very nicely now. The tickover had come back and she felt a lot happier. Could this be because she used to live near Ross-on-Wye? Did she think she was going home?

She wasn’t. We continued on our way to Hereford, where there was a longer-than-planned stop for food and a rest at a pub that was having problems with its clever till system. My food order got lost. At least this gave longer for the coil to cool…

This camouflage is not much use in a car park.

This camouflage is not much use in a car park.

When I finally got back to the car, I decided it might be an idea to check the oil level. It’s a good job I did, as it was right at the lower end of acceptability. Fortunately, I’d left some oil in the car from when I nipped down to tinker with the Dyane the previous week. Nice, expensive synthetic stuff too. So, it was a bit dismaying to notice that this nice, expensive oil was leaking out all over the engine. I suspect several minor leaks, but it’s certainly enough for the car to mark its territory. Given the crap service, I can’t say I feel too bad about the Dyane marking this particular car park!

So, onwards I drove, being blinded by the setting sun. It was quite pretty though to be fair.

A beautiful evening for a long drive.

A beautiful evening for a long drive.

We’d now covered over 100 miles, but there was still a long way to go! I’d discovered the lack of heater tubes as the temperature dropped, but at least I could close the dash vents. The climb over the Elan Valley mountain road was tricky, as I had to keep dropping a gear to avoid pinking. It tends to happen when the engine is under maximum load, so the trick is to drop a gear, so you end up with lots of revs, but less load on the engine. Noisy work, but we made it.

Home! 172 miles covered.

Home! 172 miles covered.

172 miles covered, in a car last on the road in 1995, that has a 602cc engine developing 33bhp. We averaged 34mph and the journey home took about the same time as the train. I can’t really be anything other than pleased.

Road Test: Peugeot 205 (very) turbo diesel

I could quite easily hold up the Peugeot 205 as one of the best cars of the 1980s. It replaced the dumpy, uninspiring 104 with something that remains super-stylish today. This is one of the most attractive hatchbacks of all time. Every line seems just about perfect. Quite remarkable for an in-house design, from a company that hardly had a track record in producing genuinely attractive cars. I mean no offence, but while the -04 range certainly had charm, they all lacked the game-changing wow-factor of the 205.

This 205 packs plenty of punch.

This 205 packs plenty of punch.

As well as that, it manages to be comfortable, it handles really rather well and even the tiny 954cc poverty models are good fun to drive. The huge hatchback and folding rear seat means they’re surprisingly practical too. There’s a strong, and very lengthy, engine line up. One of the best diesel engines ever made. Hilarious power in the 1.9 GTi. Pretty amusing power in the smaller XS and 1.6 GTi. There’s a pretty convertible. In France, you could even buy a stylish van version – not just the hatchback with plated over windows that we got here.

Quite rightly, it was a huge success. It made cars like the Austin Metro seem awfully old hat (much as I love them) in a stroke, just a few years after that car was launched. The STDT was one of the first DIESEL hot hatchbacks. Here was a car that could be entertainingly brisk, but would also deliver 45mpg or better. Oil burners really had come a long way.

The car tested here has had the larger 1905cc turbo diesel inserted from a 306 (I think). Furthermore, it has undergone quite a few mods (better intercooler positioning, cranked up fuelling) to ensure it really is very brisk indeed. This was the first 205 I’d driven in quite a long time – possibly since I owned a 1.0 XE back in about 2000. So, what was it like?

Firstly, all the usual 205 hallmarks are there. Enormous side doors (this being a 3-door) and a gearlever that was seemingly stolen from a coach. It’s massively long! But this car is all about the power delivery – and how! Progress is sluggish until you sneak beyond 2000rpm, at which point it’ll light up the tyres! This is not a smooth, torque-laden turbo diesel, it feels far more like the abrupt power delivery of a BMW 2002 or early Audi Quattro. It’s a case of lag, lag, lag, OH MY GOSH THAT’S QUICK! Before you hit 4000rpm, change gear and do it all over again.

I’ll be honest, this is not actually my idea of fun. I like the turbo diesel in my XM, which gently increases power from 1500rpm as the turbo whistles into life. It’s smooth, almost seamless and a world a way from this nothing-nothing-BANG approach.

It’s hugely entertaining for sure, especially with the smokescreen it seems to generate, but there is no chance I’d want to live with a car like this every day. I’d find it too frustrating. It’s exactly why I tired of my Peugeot 306 DTurbo and my Citroen BX turbo diesels. You find yourself constantly facing a battle to keep the engine in its incredibly short sweet spot.

One thing is for certain though. This car certainly proves that a little light tweaking can make a fun, economical little car an absolute riot. All while topping 40mpg on waste vegetable oil. Not my cup of tea then, but I can certainly see the appeal.

Video: My relationship with the 2CV

After yesterday’s Blog post, I did probably-not-enough thinking, and have agreed to purchase the Dyane. More on that in the coming weeks! But, I thought it might be nice to indulge myself with some thoughts on why I like 2CVs (and other A-Series Citroens such as the Dyane) quite so much.

I’m not sure my video has all of the answers, but I hope you enjoy it. It includes some truly excellent external footage from my friend Keith Hicks. We had great fun nailing those sequences together last summer. It really has reminded me just why it is that I need an A-Series Citroen in my life ASAP!