Outlander charges into hybrid market

Dated interior and €40,000-plus price tag balanced by usability of hybrid power

Make: Mitsubishi

Model: Outlander

Year: 2014

Fuel: Hybrid

Date Reviewed: July 14, 2014

Wed, Jul 16, 2014, 01:00

   

It was Brazil v Germany. The score was already 4-0 and I had just pulled in from work. The Mitsubishi Outlander told me its battery power was about to run out. But it’s the World Cup semi-final after all. I’d plug it in after the match.

Needless to say, at 7-1 all thoughts of the Outlander’s battery went out the window. Next morning as I hit the start button the engine kicked in. And that’s why plug-in hybrids make sense. There are those whose lives run to the tick of a well-set Swiss watch. Then there are the rest of us for whom lastminute.com seems to be more a way of life than a website.

In just over five years’ time there will be 200,000 electric vehicles on Irish roads. Yes folks, 10 per cent of the entire Irish vehicle fleet will be electric, at least if the Government’s long-held plan comes to fruition. Given that there are barely 500 electric cars on the road at present, it would seem like we’re in for something of a sales surge in the next few years.

It’s easy to mock the idealistic plans laid out at a time when we even believed that our little island could be the template for the electric car revolution. We were going to write the book on electric cars, deciding everything from the charging points to the future format of these cars. Ireland – a car market barely the equivalent of the sales in greater Manchester – was going to put the global auto giants in their place. Admittedly this was at a time when we also thought unemployment was an historic anachronism, and that buying a flat-screen TV with money from a 30-year mortgage made sound financial sense.

Restrictions
While the electric vehicle targets remain in place, the reality is that the motor industry is taking a far more considered approach to the electric revolution. Everyone realises the restrictions placed on motorists by the limited range of fully electric vehicles. Tesla has pushed the boundaries on range but for now their limited vehicle offering makes them a niche player.

A fully-charged electric car is, frankly, great fun to drive. Power is linear and smoother than most combustion engines’. The heavy batteries in the floorpan add to the stability of the car, making the handling far better. It’s also good for the environment and relatively cheap to recharge. Yet there’s always the “what if” elephant sitting in the passenger seat. What if I suddenly need to get to Galway in the afternoon? What if I forget to plug it in the night before? What if my life is far less organised than I pretended to the sales staff at the dealership? If you have ever seen the fuel light flashing on your dash then you have to wonder if you really will recharge the battery in time every time.