Mit­subishi Out­lander PHEV

Mit­subishi Out­lander PHEV £40k est.

Top Gear (Malaysia) - - Contents - TOM HAR­RI­SON

WE SAY: THE MOST POP­U­LAR VE­HIC­U­LAR TAX

BREAK HAS A FACELIFT

Why do I see these things ev­ery­where?

Since its launch four years ago, Mit­subishi has shifted over 100,000 Out­lander PHEVs in Europe alone. That makes it the con­ti­nent’s best-sell­ing PHEV, and Bri­tain’s best-sell­ing plug-in of any type – hy­brid or pure EV. There are three rea­sons for this.

First, it’s an SUV, and ev­ery­body loves an SUV. It’s the bodystyle du jour. You’ve prob­a­bly got one. And if you don’t, sci­ence says you will soon. Sec­ond, it’s not a diesel, but a plug-in hy­brid, which means mas­sive tax breaks and that warm, gooey feel­ing of having done A Good Thing for the en­vi­ron­ment. And, lastly, there’s noth­ing else quite like it on sale. At least not for this kind of money.

OK. What’s new?

On the face of it, noth­ing what­so­ever. The new­ness is buried deep within – a 2.4-litre Atkin­son-cy­cle four-cylin­der en­gine re­places the old 2.0-litre, giv­ing in­cre­men­tal econ­omy and power gains, the e-mo­tor mounted on the rear axle is new and more pow­er­ful than the one it re­places, gen­er­a­tor and bat­tery ca­pac­i­ties are up, and the steer­ing, brakes, sus­pen­sion, chas­sis, all-wheel drive and hy­brid con­trol sys­tems have all been re­tuned/ up­graded/made gen­er­ally bet­ter.

Blimey. How does it work?

No idea. But it’s very clever. Un­der heavy ac­cel­er­a­tion, the en­gine helps drive the front wheels, but most of the time it just acts as a gen­er­a­tor for the bat­tery pack un­der the boot­floor, which pow­ers two elec­tric mo­tors. That’s one on each axle for proper all-wheel drive. Pure-EV range is 45km on the WLTP cy­cle.

What’s it like?

The new en­gine is bet­ter – qui­eter and more re­fined – and you can feel the ex­tra punch in EV mode. It’s not fast and no sports car – the steer­ing is marginally quicker and the ride a tad more set­tled, but this is still a big, tall car with a rub­ber-bandy fixed-gear trans­mis­sion.

Cruises well on the mo­tor­way, with sur­pris­ingly lit­tle wind/road noise (there’s no­tice­ably less re­verb through the chas­sis), but off it there’s pitch, roll and heave con­sis­tent with its some­what util­i­tar­ian im­age. Same is true of the in­te­rior, whose lay­out and in­fo­tain­ment feels dated, and ma­te­ri­als cheaper than they ought to be in some­thing that is likely to cost around £40k. Not for peo­ple who en­joy driv­ing, but a mighty ef­fec­tive tax dodge.

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