It’s not every day that you get something for nothing, but that’s exactly what Mitsubishi is boldly claiming with the launch of their latest model, the Outlander PHEV. It’s a hybrid based on the latest generation Outlander crossover that after the government’s £5,000 Plug-in Car Grant can be purchased in base GX3h spec for the same £28,249 as the equivalent Outlander diesel.
At its core is a 119 bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine under the bonnet that the majority of the time acts as a generator, charging the lithium-ion battery pack, which drives a pair of 60 Kw electric motors mounted on both the front and rear axles. If the battery pack is running out of charge and swift acceleration is needed, the petrol engine can drive the front wheels directly if needed but this doesn’t happen often. When it does the petrol unit makes very little noise, so you rarely notice it kicking in.
The PHEV can also be charged using a standard domestic socket in five hours, or a fast charge point in under one hour, giving a range of 32.5 miles in pure EV mode. There are also charge and save functions, which enable drivers to charge the batteries to 80% whilst driving or save the charge in the batteries for later in your journey.
As the Outlander was designed from the outset to be offered as a Hybrid, there have been no compromises inside offering the same spacious accommodation for five adults and a 463 litre boot. The cabin is shared with the rest of the Outlander range, so it is smartly designed and solidly constructed with a user-friendly layout that’s easy to navigate, although there are dull black plastic features throughout. The only differences over the standard car are a futuristic looking joystick gear selector, and a useful power gauge in place of a rev counter.
There are plenty of storage areas throughout, and space for passengers is more than generous, and usefully the rear seats fold completely flat, making carrying large loads easy. Standard specification across the range is plentiful with standard fit 18 inch alloy wheels, cruise control, dual-zone climate control and Bluetooth connectivity. The GX4hs you see here adds a seven-inch HD touchscreen navigation system, HID headlights, reversing camera, leather seats, DAB radio, electric sunroof, adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation system and lane departure warning. Higher specification models command a £1,000 premium over the equivalent diesel model.
Uniquely Mitsubishi has also developed an Android and iPhone app to be used in conjunction with the PHEV that enables owners to remotely check the status of the car’s batteries, as well as setting up and managing a charging schedule, which is particularly useful for those who have reduced nighttime electrical tariffs. There is also functionality to remotely heat or cool the cabin before setting off.
On the road the Outlander PHEV drives like any other Hybrid, pulling away and cruising silently most of the time. The electric motor’s instant torque makes the car feel responsive especially around town although a sharp push of the accelerator is needed to bring the PHEV up to motorway speeds, which is reflected in the 11 second sprint to 62 mph. As you would expect, refinement is first class helped further by impressively low wind and tyre noise, making travelling long distances less of a chore.
With its battery back situated under the floor of the cabin, the Outlander benefits from a very low centre of gravity, which makes it feel very stable when cornering, helped by good grip levels. Ultimately though, there is little fun to be had at the wheel, largely because of the vague steering and noticeable body lean, but it always feels safe and secure. It also rides well managing to shrug off poor road surfaces with ease, making it feel relaxed most of the time.
As an ownership proposition the Outlander PHEV makes a hell-of-a-lot of sense, with ultra-low running costs. Average fuel consumption is quoted at 148 mpg and with emissions as low as 44 g/km, buyers pay no road tax or London congestion charges. For business users the PHEV is an attractive proposition as it commands a tiny 5% Benefit in Kind rate, which is substantially less than any of its closest competitors.
Price as tested: £34,999
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Engine: 2.0 16v 119 bhp & 2x 60 Kw electric motors – 0-62 mph: 11.0 secs – Maximum Speed: 106 mph
Economy: 148 mpg (combined) – Emissions: 44 g/km (Band A) – VED (12 months): £0
Dimensions: Length: 4,655 mm – Width: 1,800 mm – Height: 1,680 mm – Wheelbase: 2,670 mm – Kerb Weight: 2,310 kg
*data from Mitsubishi UK