I get down and play dirty with electricity
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.