I get down and play dirty with elec­tric­ity

NZ Today - - ON MOTORING - Only a small badge on the rear and front guards to show mo­tive power.

PHEV - Petrol Hy­brid Elec­tric Ve­hi­cle. I too had to ask what it stood for. The Out­lander has been with us since 2004 and while it has been face-lifted a cou­ple of times, still re­mains a favourite to both fleets and the pri­vate buyer. So the in­tro­duc­tion of a Hy­brid ver­sion should add an ex­tra mar­ket? I took one away for a week to find out.

I’m a fan of elec­tric ve­hi­cles for many rea­sons, not least of which is the torque pro­duced by the mo­tor. It doesn’t re­quire a gear­box, or clutch and pro­vides max­i­mum torque from startup. It uses no en­ergy while sta­tion­ary and gives a plat­form to re­cover en­ergy when brak­ing, nor­mally lost through heat, on the brakes. Elec­tric cars are also in­her­ently quiet, eerily so.

The down­sides are both the weight and range of to­day’s bat­ter­ies. The PHEV has an additional mass of 300kg in bat­ter­ies, mounted low un­der the floor, that will only give a 40km range. What the Mitsi elec­tric SUV does, and does ex­tremely well, is main­tain the essence of the orig­i­nal Out­lander and even that ex­tra weight has its ad­van­tages, help­ing the han­dling of the Out­lander, which re­mains neu­tral and flat through cor­ners.

I have driven most of the mod­els of elec­tric ve­hi­cles for sale in New Zealand and con­firmed my con­tention that the lim­it­ing fac­tor other than weight and range is cost, com­pared to ei­ther diesel or petrol ver­sions. The PHEV is avail­able in two spec lev­els, the XLS $59,990 and VRX $66,990, a $7000 in­crease over the diesel ver­sion Out­landers.

I asked Mit­subishi how elec­tric­ity and wa­ter mixed as I had driven a ri­val Hy­brid SUV that the com­pany asked me not to drive through deep wa­ter, or avoid wa­ter if pos­si­ble. Mit­subishi was happy to have the Out­lander im­mersed, so I did as you see in the photo.

Both ver­sions are five-seaters only, to al­low the re­lo­cated and slightly smaller, at 45 litre, fuel tank to be repo­si­tioned. Each axle has a 60kW elec­tric mo­tor and a two-litre petrol mo­tor re­sid­ing un­der the bon­net. It pro­vides mo­tive power and bat­tery recharg­ing once the ve­hi­cle is un­der way. Com­put­ers con­trol where power is di­rected to from both petrol and elec­tric giv­ing a com­bined torque of 350Nm. The steer­ing wheel pad­dle shifters used on other Out­landers are em­ployed in the PHEV to re­dis­tribute power un­der both brak­ing and de­cel­er­a­tion. There are four se­lectable and one de­fault set­ting. In prac­tice, on max­i­mum de­cel­er­a­tion set­ting, you al­most never touch the brakes and get in re­turn max­i­mum re­gen­er­a­tion of bat­tery power.

On the road the PHEV is easy to drive around town or on coun­try, sealed or met­alled roads. Al­ways start­ing with the elec­tric mo­tors it re­tains all the best fea­tures of the rest of the range, with a 0-100km dash in less than 10 sec­onds and mid-range ac­cel­er­a­tion bet­ter than the diesel or petrol thanks to that won­der­ful torque.

Off the road this is the best Hy­brid SUV avail­able yet. With good ground clear­ance and the abil­ity to trickle along us­ing no petrol you’ll fool the dogs, who are wait­ing to hear a mo­tor start.

I found the elec­tric Mitsi eas­ily able to cope with any ob­sta­cles that other soft road­ers do. The re­al­ity is the PHEV is prob­a­bly even bet­ter off-road.

The in­te­rior has leather for the VRX and fab­ric in the XLS. Both fea­ture re­verse cam­era and Sat Nav, as well as Blue­tooth, Cruise con­trol and the most com­pre­hen­sive com­puter func­tions. Safety-wise all the acronyms are present along with 5 stars ANCAP rat­ing.

Tow­ing is re­stricted to 1200kgs braked sim­ply be­cause higher fuel con­sump­tion while tow­ing might leave you stranded if you ran out of petrol and couldn’t recharge the bat­ter­ies. You can’t run on petrol alone!

I like the PHEV and it does point the way to many more SUV Hy­brids, in­clud­ing other mod­els from Mit­subishi. It has much to of­fer and yes, it is the best Hy­brid SUV in terms of value and ver­sa­til­ity yet!

A real Elec­tric/Petrol SUV that you can use off road.

Right hand side elec­tric 3 pin charg­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.