First drive: Mitsubishi’s plug-in hybrid
A welcome off-roader with electric potential from the Japanese brand
The Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV)
Lately we are seeing all-new electric and hybrid vehicles arriving into the market from various manufacturers. Mitsubishi has combined technology from both vehicle types to produce the world’s first four-wheel-drive plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.
At the heart of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a high-capacity drive battery, coupled with two electric motors: one for the front axle and one for the rear axle. Under the bonnet is a 2.0-litre petrol engine.
The PHEV operating system will automatically select one of three driving modes, depending on driving conditions and remaining battery level.
In EV drive mode the front and rear motors drive the vehicle to a maximum speed of 120km/h. In this mode the Outlander can cruise solely on electric power for approximately 52 kilometres.
The second mode is series hybrid, whereby the petrol engine runs as a generator to supply power to the electric motors. The system will automatically switch to this mode when the remaining battery charge falls below a predetermined level and when more power is required, for example overtaking another vehicle or driving up a steep gradient.
The final drive mode is parallel hybrid, here the petrol engine drives the vehicle with assistance from the electric motors as required. Parallel hybrid is used primarily when the vehicle is travelling at higher-speeds such as motorway driving, the petrol engine is more efficient on these roads then the electric motors.
There are two buttons behind the gear selector which allow you to either charge the battery on the move or preserve battery power. In battery charge mode the engine runs continuously to recharge the battery to 80 per cent, this takes approximately 40 minutes.
The Outlander PHEV is also equipped with regenerative braking, something we have experienced in electric cars. By using the paddles behind the steering wheel you can increase or decrease the degree of regenerative braking. On our test drive we tried all six levels and preferred the highest level, here there is a noticeable deceleration when you take your foot off the accelerator. Around town you will find you rarely have to brake with much force if you have the regenerative setting in this configuration and read the road ahead.
The Outlander PHEV has civilised road manners, it’s predictable and handles its additional weight from the battery in the floor admirably. The one-speed transmission takes time to master and gain the best response from the battery or engine, if you’re heavy-footed it’s quite easy to induce a large amount of engine revs, a gentle approach extracts the best performance, which we found to be plentiful for the vast majority of drives.
The cabin has a familiar feel and layout to the diesel-powered Outlander, albeit with some new instrument dials and a petite gear selector that’s light to touch. All-round visibility is fine, as is the space on offer for front and rear seat occupants.
Interestingly this new Outlander PHEV costs a reasonable €2,000 more then its diesel equivalent, with prices commencing from €41,950 for the Intense+ model, the range-topping Instyle+ variant costs €47,450. Its appearance has been restyled slightly to distinguish it from its diesel-powered sibling. The PHEV model has a chrome plated upper and mid front grille, with a body-coloured lower bumper.
The rear houses clear LED light lenses and a body-coloured lower bumper. The Intense+ variant comes equipped with a respectable level of specification as standard, this includes 18” alloy wheels, climate control, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, rear parking sensors, daytime running lights, privacy glass and rain sensing wipers.
The Outlander PHEV has two charge ports, a regular one which will fully charge the battery in approximately five hours and a fast charge port that’s capable of charging the battery to 80 per cent capacity in just 30 minutes. An app is available for your smartphone on the Instyle+ model. It enables you to set the start time for your Outlander to charge, ideal for taking advantage of lower electricity rates during the night. You can also monitor the current charge status of the vehicle and set the climate control to warm or cool the car before setting off on your journey.
The dreaded ‘range anxiety’ that’s part and parcel with an electric car is non existent with the Outlander PHEV. Its sole EV range of 52 kilometres or thereabouts isn’t going to set the world alight, nonetheless, with the capability of charging the battery on the move and saving energy to be utilised when required this vehicle is far more capable then any current electric or hybrid car currently on sale. It’s simple to forget this SUV can also tackle off-road challenges thanks to its four-wheel-drive system.
Engine: 1,998cc four-cylinder petrol putting out 120hp at 4,500rpm and 190Nm at 4,500rpm and two permanent magnet synchronous electric motors with a combined output of 120Kw and 332Nm of torque, with single-speed transmission
Performance: 0-100km/h 11 seconds, max speed 170 km/h
Economy: Combined 1.9l/100km (148.7mpg)
Emissions: (Motor Tax) 44g/km (€170)
Specifications: Standard features on the Intense+ 18” alloy wheels, automatic wipers, daytime running lights, privacy glass, cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, climate control, rear parking sensors and a leather trimmed multi-function steering wheel.