The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) is the UK’s best-selling vehicle of its type. Mitsubishi reckon that the official fuel consumption figure is up to 156mpg but, to be frank, it would take a very special set of circumstances to achieve this. I certainly didn't manage it but to be fair I was putting the test car through its paces.
The vehicle is derived from the third generation of the Mitsubishi Outlander model and has certainly captured the public's interest by accounting for 51% of the companies UK sales. It has clearly evolved from when I first tried it (here), with a much more striking exterior as you can see from my snaps.
Put simply, the Outlander PHEV offers environmentally-friendly all-electric operation for everyday use and mainly motor-powered hybrid operation for longer journeys - always depending upon how you use it.
The PHEV has a cruising range of up to 32 miles in pure EV mode, enabling it to function entirely as an electric vehicle in most everyday situations. That mileage may well be enough for the average daily commute. This can be augmented if you have charging facilities at work.
Using both battery and petrol modes, it has an official cruising range of approximately 541 miles, although this will depend upon road conditions and the like. Petrol consumption is minimised by actively using electric power, keeping the petrol engine in its most efficient range, and by recovering energy used during deceleration from regenerative braking.
There is no gear-shifting, just a seamless transmission of power. You can drive without doing anything special. The car will decide for itself, thank you very much, when the electric motors should contribute to your progress, or convert themselves into generators to recharge the battery when its charge has nearly run out.
If you want to, you can choose (via console switches/paddles) when to recharge the batteries, when to use electric drive only, and when to ensure all four wheels are being driven.
Drive Modes In Detail
1. EV Drive Mode
EV Drive Mode is an all-electric mode in which the front and rear motors drive the vehicle using only electricity from the drive battery. With zero on-road petrol consumption and zero CO² emissions, the driver can enjoy a quiet and very eco-friendly performance in this mode, subject to weather conditions and the extent to which the car’s heating system and air conditioning are used.
2. Series Hybrid Mode
In Series Hybrid Mode, the petrol engine operates as a generator supplying electricity to the electric motors. The system switches to this mode when the remaining charge in the battery falls below a predetermined level and when more powerful performance is required, such as accelerating to pass a vehicle or climbing a steep gradient.
3. Parallel Hybrid Mode
The system switches to Parallel Hybrid Mode when the vehicle reaches high speeds. In this mode the high-efficiency petrol engine provides most of the motive power, assisted by the electric motors as required, such as when more powerful performance is needed to accelerate or climb a slope.
What's It Like?
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a low-emission (42g/km) five-seater, full-size SUV. On the road, the Outlander is an easy and relaxed drive, with good visibility because of its elevated driving position. Thanks to the electric boost it is quick off the mark but is in no way sporting. There's plenty of sway in the corners but I guess most drivers won't be flinging it about anyway.
Drive is ultra-smooth with seamless transition between the three driving modes which combine to deliver optimum performance dependent on driving conditions. In my view it is best to let the car get on with it and not fiddle about too much with the charging options. Trying to regenerate extra battery charge results in real-time petrol penalties. Charge it at home and/or at work and leave it at that.
The PHEV offers adaptive four-wheel drive, with twin electric motors driving the wheels on demand. The standing start sprint to 62mph takes a modest but perfectly acceptable 11 seconds. Torque is a punchy 244lb/ft. This coupled with a 1,500kg towing capacity makes it an ideal candidate for towing for a medium-weight caravan.
Comfort Not Speed
A new black ash dashboard and door trim panel give a modern-looking, refined feel to the interior. The appearance of the dashboard has been comprehensively refreshed, and there is a new raised centre console too. Other touches within the cabin include padded door panels, a stitched instrument cowl, an electric window panel, wood panelling and cloth sun visors. With the supportive soft leather seats (supplied here in a striking red) the interior of the car is upmarket, roomy and comfortable.
A four-spoke heated steering wheel features an intuitive button layout that is easy to get to grips with. The easy-to-read high-contrast meters include a power meter that shows at a glance how much energy is being used and recovered. The high-definition colour LCD multi-information display system, which provides access to a range of e-Assist and eco-driving support data and route guidance information linked to the car navigation system, displays vehicle energy flow data.
The selector lever is a futuristic-looking joystick with an electric ‘parking switch’ that locks the lever. The Outlander PHEV comes with an ‘ECO Mode’ switch that controls electricity and fuel usage for increased efficiency at the touch of a button and an ECO Driving Support System Display that shows just how much energy is being saved.
Would I Buy One?
No. It isn't the car for me but I do admire its qualities. I am obviously in a minority as the sales of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV demonstrate. The ride is exceptionally comfortable of that there's no doubt, but it is too soft and pliant for my driving proclivities. Others will buy it for just that reason.
With prices ranging from around £28–40,000 (after the government grant) it isn't the cheapest SUV around but if you are keen to be thrifty with fuel or are concerned about the environment then there's plenty of appeal.