Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV £40k est.
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.