Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV – Review
By Liam Bird
Mathematics was never my strong point; the dark arts of differentiation and integration are as much of a mystery to me now as they were when I was a student. Laplace transform, I’m sure was the work of witchcraft. Nevertheless by putting in the hours I did eventually get my qualifications in engineering.
Recently I’ve plundered those once learned and near-forgotten mental files of mine in a bid to understand Mitsubishi’s latest edition to its Outlander Range: the PHEV, or Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle. You see, the engineering side of it I understand completely – that’s the easy bit. It’s the accompanying numbers that I find a little confusing.
From the outside the PHEV looks exactly the same as the regular Outlander. The same five-door SUV stance, the same LED lamps, and the same body-coloured bumpers – you get the idea. If it wasn’t for the rather snazzy blue badges on the front-wings and tailgate you probably wouldn’t notice any differences at all.
“All very, very clever”
Inside too, all is familiar. An elevated and slightly upright driving position greets you when you keylessly open the door, as does a slightly flat-feeling seat. The functional, if somewhat uninspiring, dashboard layout, and all of the major controls are also instantly recognisable. It’s only when you look, or perhaps listen, a little more closely that you notice the differences. Press the start button and there’s no noise at all, not even after you’ve pulled the joystick-like selector back into Drive and released the brakes.
That’s because PHEV doesn’t use its petrol engine in the same way its more conventional brethren would. Instead – and here’s the clever bit – the 2-litre 119bhp unit is employed primarily to charge an 80 cell lithium-ion battery contained in the chassis. It, in turn, powers two 60kw motors; one in the front axle, and a torquier one in the rear. The Outlander PHEV, as a result, is a four-wheel drive, five-seater, congestion charge free SUV, with CO2 emissions of just 44g/km, zero VED, just 5% BIK and an official fuel consumption figure of 148mpg.
Mitsubishi say once fully charged the PHEV will do 75 mph or up to 32 miles on battery power alone, and should you choose to, can be charged by idling the engine for 30 minutes, or plugging the Outlander into the mains. There are two filler caps; one for the petrol, and one for the electrons. You can even control it all, or check the charge levels, via a smart-phone app. It’s all, very, very clever. Regrettably, I’m not.
Here’s the bit I’m still struggling with: how can a vehicle with a 9.9 gallon fuel tank and a claimed 148 mpg only have, according to its official literature, a range of just 500 miles? And why, on a recent 150 mile round trip, did the PHEV Mitsubishi let me devour at least half the contents of said tank whilst its trip computer displayed a reading of just 32.3 mpg? To me, something somewhere doesn’t add up.
Let’s not be too harsh though, Mitsubishi themselves are advising high milers to buy the similarly priced diesel instead. However, if you were to charge your PHEV daily, you could, potentially, commute on electric power alone. Also, if you’re a company car user, the tax breaks offered by the PHEV could mean annually (pardon the pun) you’d be miles better off with the Outlander than many of its contemporaries.
Mitsubishi call the Outlander PHEV their game-changer. Do the maths carefully and it might, just might, be.
Mitusbishi Outlander GX4 hs 2.0 PHEV Auto
Engine: 1998 cc 4Cyl, DOHC petrol/electric
Power: 119 BHP @ 4500rpm
Torque: 190 lbft @ 4500rpm
Transmission: Automatic, with lockable Four Wheel Drive
Performance: 0-62mph 11.0 sec
Max Speed: 106 mph
Price: from £34,999