When Mitsubishi launched its popular Outlander sport utility vehicle in hybrid form, it was almost deemed revolutionary.
That was in 2014, and since then the PHEV (plug-in electric vehicle) has sold well in New Zealand – globally too for that matter – and is about to become even more appealing for it has just had a fairly hefty makeover.
The concept, shape and ease of use hasn’t changed one bit, but the new Outlander PHEV is fitted out with a lot of new kit, most of it is electronic thereby enhancing the infotainment and communication systems, along with the inclusion of an ultra fast charge mechanism, higher priority for electric operation-only and the inclusion of advanced safety protocols.
Column space doesn’t allow comprehensive detailing of the new features but I can say the Outlander in this form is engineered with a greater emphasis towards propulsion through the electric motors.
For that matter, the new fast charge connection will fit well with a comprehensive project nationwide to install fast charge stations. Of course, the PHEV can also be charged through a household supply using a separate connection.
However, there’s more to PHEV than just plugging in, charging and then driving off, the hybrid system is true hybrid. Under the bonnet sits a four-cylinder, 2-litre engine which is rated at 88kW. It’s there to charge the batteries when they run low, as well as providing drive if there is no charge available. On the subject of drive, the PHEV is true to the Outlander concept, it gets four-wheel-drive courtesy of a second electric motor at the rear.
Amidst the complexity of the hybrid system the PHEV is capable of returning some amazing fuel usage statistics through the varying drive modes, although electric drive is prioritised.
At best possible usage Mitsubishi rate the PHEV at an amazing 1.7-litres per 100km (166mpg). That, of course, can only be achieved under certain circumstances, but on a daily commute it can’t be ruled out.
An overnight charge (6.5 hours) will cost around $2 depending on your service provider and it is good for a 54km journey.
Fast charge rates at a pay station will cost, on current rates, 25c/minute plus 25c/kWh. A 20min time frame should be expected to charge from zero to 80 per cent.
Even though the Outlander PHEV is a complicated car and takes some understanding, buyers needn’t be put off by its complexity. If you just get in and drive it, it quickly becomes familiar and drives little differently to the standard vehicle it is based on.
Also, if you are a technophile there are a multitude of information displays to keep you happy, they indicate the varying modes that the vehicle is utilising at any given time.
Even though I didn’t take the PHEV off-road – only for the sake I didn’t want to get it dirty thanks to a wet Queen’s Birthday weekend making off-road conditions muddy – you can drive the PHEV with the mindset it is a useful off-the-seal traveller with suspension capable of absorbing a bit of rough stuff and ground clearance which allows travel over undulating ground.
The PHEV also has composure on the highway, it travels very quietly – no surprise there – and it steers and handles like an SUV should. It feels quite sprightly given the torque generation of electric power returning a 10sec time to make 100km/h from a standstill.
There’s been a common misconception that you have to drive hybrids long distances to recapture the cost of purchase.
That’s certainly not the case with the Outlander PHEV. It comes priced realistically from $60,990. The evaluation car was VRX-specced which adds $7000 and you get all the Mitsubishi high-grade kit – leather trim, heated front seats, paddle gear shifters, sat nav, Siri voice recognition and a multitude of other items. It’s fair to say the VRX sits on the outer periphery of the luxury car market.
If you think that longevity is a worry, take into account that the hybrid/electric componentry is covered for an eight-year period (or 160,000km) and the engine/driveline is covered for 10 years. Peace of mind really.
Price – Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, $67,990
Dimensions – Length, 4695mm; width, 1800mm; height, 1710mm
Configuration – Four-cylinder, four-wheel-drive, 1998cc, 88kW, 189Nm, continuously variable automatic
Fuel usage – 1.7l/100km