By Paul Clarke
Model/Engine size: Mitsubishi Outlander GX4hs 2.0 PHEV Auto
Fuel: Petrol-Electric Plug-in Hybrid
Fuel economy combined: 156.9 mpg
We’re running a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) on a long-term test. We’ve already looked at what we want to find out over six months, now we’re examining how the car works.
So, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a large, spacious 4×4 SUV with a 2-litre petrol engine. It also has two electric motors – a 60kW motor at the front, and another 60kW motor at the rear. These are powered by a battery, which can be charged by plugging it in to your home electricity supply. This gives an official range of 32.5 miles on electric power. Due to the wonders of the NEDC test, this means the Outlander PHEV has an official economy figure of 156.9mpg, along with 42g/km CO2 emissions.
You can drive the Outlander in pure electric mode; it has an official all-electric range of 32.5 miles.
You can also drive it just on its petrol engine, by pressing the button marked ‘Save’. This is designed to ‘save’ the battery charge, for example if you’re driving the vehicle down the motorway into an urban area such as London. When you get to the city, you can switch off the ‘save’ function. You should now have a full battery to propel you around an urban area in pure electric mode, with zero tailpipe emissions.
There’s also a button marked ‘Charge’. This allows you to charge the battery from the petrol engine – for instance for the scenario above of driving down a motorway to an urban area, if you forgot to charge the car from the mains in the first place.
Located near these other two buttons is a third button entitled ‘Twin Motor 4WD Lock’. This is designed to offer better traction in off-road conditions.
Click on images to enlarge and for slideshow
So you can drive in all-electric mode, or in petrol mode. Although you can choose to drive in petrol mode by pushing the ‘Save’ button, you can’t actually choose to drive in pure electric mode. In ‘Normal’ mode, the Outlander should drive primarily as an EV, but in reality it drives in hybrid mode, when it decides for itself whether it’s using electric power, petrol, or a combination of both.
The petrol engine normally operates as a generator supplying electricity to the electric motors (‘Series Hybrid Mode’). At higher speeds the petrol engine provides most of the motive power (‘Parallel Hybrid Mode’).
There are steering wheel-mounted paddles which you would assume can be used to change gear, but as the Outlander has just a single gear automatic transmission, these paddles are used to select the degree of regenerative braking – and there are six levels altogether.
Click on images to enlarge and for slideshow
We tested the Outlander PHEV when it first came to the UK in 2014. This latest version of the Outlander has been revised. The most obvious changes are on the outside, and we think it looks much better. The front of the last model had headlights which drooped down at the sides, which is never a good look. The new car has headlights which have had a nip and tuck, rising upwards at the side – a much more modern, dynamic look – even if it is now quite a common styling trend in this class of car. The rest of the front of the car is also refreshed, along with the rear. Overall, the revised model looks lower, longer, sleeker and more sporty.
Inside, the dashboard is now more upmarket, and the infomedia system is improved – although it still has various small buttons surrounding the central screen. Many rivals have more sophisticated systems with more modern design.
The previous Outlander had very light steering, this latest model has more weight, and is much improved as a result. There’s even a new, thicker-rimmed steering wheel to further improve the driving experience.
Mitsubishi has also made the cabin quieter, and acceleration is also improved, yet the Outlander is also slightly more economical, with lower official emissions.
So in theory the Outlander PHEV sounds like the ultimate dream car – a large 4×4 offering 150+mpg. So next time we look at what the Outlander is like to drive – and give a sneak preview of whether it can cope with snow drifts…
Real-life economy: Yet to be tested
NEDC electric driving range: 32.5 miles
Real-life electric driving range: Yet to be tested
Official CO2 emissions: 42 g/km
Green rating: VED band A (£0)
Weight: 1,845 kg
Company car tax liability (2015/16): 5%
Price: £35,999 (after the current UK government Plug-in Car Grant of £5,000).
Insurance group: 22E
Power: 200 bhp
Max speed: 106 mph
0-62mph: 11.0 seconds
Torque: 385 Nm