Turning over a new leaf

Norfolk drives - Mitsubishi Hybrid SUV. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Norfolk drives - Mitsubishi Hybrid SUV. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Misty mornings, golden brown leaves and hazy sunlight – autumn is my favourite time of year. It brings out some of the best that Norfolk has to offer, making it a great time to enjoy long walks on quieter beaches or a wander through some of our county’s many woods at one with nature.

This month’s Great Norfolk Drive is a short one, taking us a few miles north-west of Norwich. That is partly down to it being a beautiful little spot, especially at this time of year, but also because I wanted to get there and back on electric power in the new environmentally-friendly Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV – that’s Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle.

This sport utility vehicle has a 2.0-litre petrol engine, an electric motor on each axle and can be plugged in and charged up for a range of up to 32.5 miles on battery power alone, so near-silent running won’t spoil the tranquillity of the countryside.

I was feeling so laid back that there isn’t even a route to follow this month as we are visiting Felthorpe and Horsford Woods. For the former, take the A1067 Fakenham road or the Reepham road and follow the signs for Felthorpe. Take the Holt road for Horsford Woods and, depending which way you are heading, it is at the end or the beginning of the village.

Both woods have plenty of free parking areas, so take your walking shoes and enjoy a stroll.

The day photographer Antony Kelly and I did the photo shoot was idyllic with nature’s paint palette taking on russet hues as the leaves turn from dark green to golden brown, especially the chestnuts which, for me, herald autumn, and dappled sunlight through the trees.

Horsford Woods has conifers and heathland with tall pines standing to attention, but Felthorpe Woods are decidedly deciduous and, if it hadn’t been a work day, I would have ventured off in search of sweet chestnuts in their prickly shells. As a young lad, when we lived at nearby Taverham, Felthorpe Woods was a favourite haunt at this time of year for a walk on the wild side and “chestnutting”. The chestnuts I have found in other parts of Norfolk lead me to think this has been a good year.

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Mitsubishi, celebrating 40 years in the UK, is also harvesting the fruits of its labours with the Outlander PHEV already Britain’s most popular plug-in hybrid.

Badging aside, the most obvious difference on the outside from the turbo diesel Outlander is a nearside filler cap for the petrol tank and an offside one for two charging points for domestic and fast-charger leads. Charging takes up to five hours from a domestic 13-amp supply for about £1 at the standard tariff and you can also charge from a 16-amp source while a fast-charger will give an 80pc charge in 30 minutes.

There was something very peaceful about driving the Outlander PHEV on the woodland roads and, with all-wheel drive capability, there are no worries about losing grip when those fallen leaves get wet and slippery or if the parking places get a mite muddy. So, as the brown leaves fall from the trees, Mitsubishi is encourage motorists to turn over a new green one with its hybrid Outlander.

Fact file

Price (includes £5,000 government plug-in car grant): Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV GX4hs £34,999, (range from £28,249)

Powertrain: 1,998cc, 119bhp, four-cylinder petrol engine and twin 60kW electric motors

Performance: 0-62mph, 11 seconds; top speed 106mph

Fuel use: Minimum charge 49mpg; weighted average 148mpg

CO2 emissions: 44g/km

Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 5pc

Insurance group: 24E (out of 50)

Warranty: Three years, unlimited mileage

Will it fit in the garage? Length 4,655mm; width (excluding door mirrors) 1,800mm; height 1,680mm

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