Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
A couple of weeks ago I asked my eldest if I could borrow his BMX for half an hour –
“No way Dad!”
“Coz you wreck stuff. Always.”
He knows me too well.
So when Mitsubishi asked if we would like to test their 2016 Outlander PHEV for a week I didn’t so much chuckle as snigger with delight at the havoc I could wreak on this shiny new £39,000 luxury SUV.
So you can imagine my disappointment when even after many laps of our off-road circuit the car had no complaints, no issues, no fault lights – we usually manage to at least overheat the coolant – this is one tough cookie.
It is also a clever cookie, new features for the 2016 model include
- Auto-Dimming Rear View Mirror
- New Design Leather Seats
- LED Daytime Running Lights
- Luggage Compartment 12v Socket
- LED Foot-well Illumination
- Three Digit MPG Display
- Steering Wheel Heater
- New Mitsubishi Multi Communication System
- 360 Camera with Steering Wheel Switch
- Super Wide Range LED Headlamps with Auto-levelling
Those last two bullet points deserve extra detail, the first for praise and the second for a whinge
The 360 camera view may well at first get you out of the car looking for a drone overhead, the display very cleverly shows an all round top-down view of the car’s surroundings with an Outlander avatar in the middle. It is accurate to within a couple of inches and great for parking between white lines; an issue many luxury saloon drivers seem to suffer from around these parts.
The image is created from four camera views blended to give all-round visibility, and can be called upon at any time, not just when reversing. I used this feature a LOT and already miss it.
On the other hand the auto-levelling of the headlights has no manual override and more than once the car in front pulled over as they thought I had been flashing them – the lights never seemed to change their position until my last evening with the car at which point instead of lighting the moon the beams pointed only a few feet in front – some work needed here I think.
My only other niggle is the location of the boot opening switch that I often caught with my knee when moving around in the drivers seat. Not a big problem (unless you are in Calais) as another press closes the boot, but it could readily be placed a few inches higher and prevent the issue altogether.
Moaning over – absolutely everything else about the car is either very good, or great.
Externally the car is quite smart looking, nothing too flamboyant or intimidating, just a well proportioned mid-size SUV that maybe drags its skirts a little too low at the back. All five doors are generously proportioned and give excellent access to the seats and boot.
The side mirrors too are worth a mention as they give the best view of any mirrors I have experienced this side of a National Express coach – very little blind spot and the view goes down to the rear wheels.
Inside the cabin and the uncluttered quality feel continues. Switches are mostly where you would want them, and all displays are well positioned for someone of my very average proportions.
There are paddles behind the steering wheel, but they are not for gears; instead they are used to select your eco-mode where you can chose how much regenerative braking effect you want. The maximum setting is not too aggressive so I left it there at all times.
As you would expect from an EV this is a quiet and civilised drive, with good power right from the off. Electric cars have many commendable traits but the way they can nip out onto a busy roundabout or perform an effortless hill start makes fuel burners – even automatics – feel very agricultural and last-century. The Outlander achieves these things with panache and dignity; infact an overarching sensation of relaxed progress accompanied most journeys in this car. It cruises along very happily at or around normal highway speeds and I found myself covering the ground a lot more rapidly than I thought I was doing on several occasions, yet at no point did I feel stressed or annoyed when traffic was crawling along – If you spend a lot of time on the road this car is a very good option in many ways.
Despite the quiet and slightly detached driving experience the car can be hustled when needed. For sure it weighs a couple of tons but moderately silly cornering never got things unsettled. The brakes are nicely progressive and powerful and acceleration was always pleasantly strong. It is not a particularly involving or rewarding drive and there is a somewhat remote sensation through the wheel, but as a tool to carry people and things from one place to another it performs excellently.
Off-road too the car never felt out of its depth – it just got on with what would often be unreasonable demands in many other SUV’s, rarely demanding very much right-foot action even on our steepest climb of mud and wet grass.
As far as fuel economy is concerned, just pick a number. One all electric drive gave an mpg of 694.8, whereas another using the motor to charge the battery saw 28.8mpg. Over our measured 150 mixed miles we achieved 57mpg starting with a charged battery, but not topping it up. This route included some quite thirsty off-road work and simulated short runs with a flat battery. This is the sort of economy you would get from a small diesel. However the Outlander is neither of those things so these figures are properly impressive and go some way to explaining why the car has won so many accolades and is selling so well.
The other reasons are the level of equipment and the relaxed pleasure of driving the car; for fleets, school mums, commuters and travelling sales folk this is a very good choice. In truth, unless you want to get pedantic, for pretty much everyone it is simply The Right Car.
£33,899 (inc. £5k Government EV grant)
2.0-litre 4cyl petrol plus front and rear electric motors
200bhp combined power
Single-speed, CVT to front wheels, all wheel electric motors
0-62mph – 11.0 seconds
Top speed – 106mph
Economy – 156mpg
CO2 – 42g/km