With ever-increasing talk of electric and hybrid cars these days, Mitsubishi has made great strides in offering a petrol electric plug-in hybrid to its SUV sector, starting with the Outlander. It was somewhat pioneering when it was first launched, but now smaller SUV rivals like the Kia Niro plug-in and Mitsubishi Countryman Cooper S All4 are starting to catch up, and it’s only a matter of time before similar sized SUVs start offering the same tech. In 2018, Mitsubishi launched a new version with a new petrol powertrain and styling revisions, but is that enough to keep it at the top of its game?
On the road
While the Outlander is available with traditional diesel or petrol engines, the PHEV is powered by a combination of a four-cylinder 2.4-litre petrol and two battery driven electric motors. You can drive it as a normal petrol car or in full electric mode, the latter offering a 28-mile range. Drive it carefully in hybrid mode and it’s claimed to return an average fuel economy of over 140mpg, but to get that you will need to drive it carefully and regularly, whilst making sure to top up the electric charge.
Now just because it’s got the added weight of the batteries, it doesn’t hamper the driving experience. Overall, it’s an extremely pleasant ride. It’s quiet when driving at slower speeds and there’s only a slight rumble when you accelerate hard.
Should you find yourself wanting a more spirited drive then there is a Sport mode, which sharpens up the steering and throttle response. It’s not going to transform the driving manners dramatically; in fact — even in Sport mode its not as agile or engaging as rivals like the Skoda Kodiaq or Nissan X-Trail. Think of it more like a comfortable cruiser rather than a spirited SUV and you’ll get the idea.
In the Cabin
The interior is pretty functional and straight forward to use. Despite the 2018 model, there are still some areas that are dated in places though. The driving position is good with lots of adjustment, and there’s great all round visibility too, which helps when it comes to parking. The parking itself is aided further with sensors which come as standard.
Most of the controls are logically placed and straight forward to use. All models come with a touch-screen infotainment system which is home to all the usual features like sat nav, radio, and in car settings. The system takes a bit of getting used to, and unlike rivals, it feels very much like an aftermarket system, rather than something that’s been designed for the car.
One of the biggest bonus’ of the PHEV is its practicality. There’s more than enough room for five people to sit in comfortably, although six-footers may struggle in the front. The boot is a good size and shape but is slightly smaller than the standard Outlander to make way for the hybrid system. The rear seats can be folded down flat 60/40 to increase the boot space, and if you’re carrying particularly long loads, then you can fold down the front passenger seat too.
There’s a lot to praise about the latest-generation Outlander PHEV. It’s extremely low CO2 emissions and the benefit-in-kind tax really makes it a strong consideration for company car drivers, while its SUV dimensions mean it’s extremely practical too.