These days the general understanding of hybrid is a vehicle with a dual power source. A Chevrolet Spark is one example. I’d rather work my way back to Pandas.
The current interpretation of hybrid overshadows other interpretations. There has in recent decades been a temptation for manufacturers to take a bit of one idea and a bit of another to make a third one. How the recipe is blended is where the interest lies. If you take a 4-wheel drive, off-road vehicle and make it more civilised you end up with a Range Rover. If you aren’t very good with adding the civilisation part you get a G-wagon or Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Subaru’s Outback of 1995 probably inspired the product planners in other firms. The 1997 Volvo XC70 combined the values of a Volvo estate with off-roading powers, yielding a car with a raised height and a lot of plastic panelling. Volvo had a bit more of a step to take in outbacking their car as they didn’t have a major talent at 4WD such as Subaru did. Renault, lacking an actual SUV/cross-over decided that the Scenic was a worthy candidate for getting four-wheel drive and extra exterior trim. The motoring press didn’t ‘get it’ as if they were being asked to consider a machine for shredding napkins or a device to freeze hairdryers. The Scenic 4×4 ran only for three years before Renault gave up.
While Renault had even more work to do with hybridising their Kangoo with four-wheel drive, their 2002 Kangoo Trekka is closer to the needs of people living in muddy places than Volvo’s car which is too nice to get muddy. And Subaru’s thirsty engines also are a mark against it. You can really imagine someone needing a Trekka with all its stowage, simple interior and hose-out flooring. I think it was popular in mountainous area of southern Europe where a combination of lower incomes, snow and steep hills create a real demand for a mix-and-match car like the Trekka. In a way it built on the idea of the 1983 Fiat Panda 4×4 but at a slightly more refined level. Is the Panda actually a hybrid? Or is the idea of off-road capability well suited to the Mk1 Panda’s intrinsic simplicity?
I seem to have worked backwards to 1983, haven’t I?