Mit­subishi Out­lander

The Out­lander was Bri­tain’s top-sell­ing PHEV, but how does it shape up next to newer ri­vals?

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THE Out­lander PHEV has proved a real sales suc­cess. When it launched, price par­ity with the diesel model and at­trac­tively low run­ning costs en­sured the Mit­subishi be­came Bri­tain’s bestselling plug-in hy­brid. Although our pic­tures show a top-spec 5hs, it’s the £31,805 Kotu model we test to see if it still has what it takes against newer ri­vals.

DE­SIGN & ENGI­NEER­ING

DE­SPITE a re­cent facelift for the Out­lander PHEV, the car’s un­der­pin­nings re­main sim­i­lar to when it was orig­i­nally launched, with a few tweaks here to freshen it up. This means a 2.0-litre petrol en­gine and two elec­tric motors giv­ing four-wheel-drive run­ning ca­pa­bil­ity to match the MINI – but with one dif­fer­ence: the Out­lander can send all of its bat­tery power to both the front and rear axles.

This facelifted car gets an EV pri­or­ity switch, which al­lows you to main­tain bat­tery power for when you need it, just like the Coun­try­man and Golf. Mit­subishi claims it’s im­proved the car’s re­gen­er­a­tive brak­ing too, which wasn’t the smoothest on its pre­de­ces­sor. It’s ad­justable us­ing the steer­ing wheel pad­dles, chang­ing the level of en­ergy har­nessed when slow­ing down.

A new cal­i­bra­tion for the sus­pen­sion dampers and dif­fer­ent rear sus­pen­sion bushes are claimed to im­prove re­fine­ment, while Mit­subishi has also de­vel­oped the elec­tric el­e­ment of the pow­er­train.

The bat­tery’s out­put is now 10 per cent greater, while the PHEV ’s rapid-charg­ing fa­cil­ity can now boost the bat­tery to 80 per cent from empty in around 25 min­utes. A full charge takes five hours with a con­ven­tional plug and 3.5 hours with a wall­box fast charger. Elec­tric-only range is now up to 33 miles, one mile fur­ther than be­fore.

This Kotu trim is pricier than the MINI and VW but you get a sim­i­lar level of kit, with a sat­nav sys­tem, Blue­tooth, DAB, cli­mate, cruise con­trol and park­ing sen­sors fit­ted as stan­dard.

While the equip­ment list might be a match for its ri­vals here, qual­ity isn’t. De­spite im­prove­ments to the Out­lander, too many sur­faces are still made from harder, cheaper plas­tic.

DRIV­ING

THE Out­lander PHEV ’s pow­er­train op­er­ates in a nar­rower win­dow than ei­ther of its ri­vals. Due to the car’s 1,845kg kerb­weight the 2.0-litre petrol en­gine feels strained, while the boost from the bat­tery and elec­tric motors isn’t as no­tice­able.

The sin­gle-speed CVT au­to­matic gear­box isn’t as re­spon­sive as the trans­mis­sions in its com­peti­tors, ei­ther. This setup meant we couldn’t record any in-gear times, but the Out­lander ac­cel­er­ated from 0-60mph in 9.0 sec­onds.

As well as be­ing the slow­est car, it’s also the worst dy­nam­i­cally. The high cen­tre of grav­ity and slow steer­ing mean it doesn’t han­dle as sweetly as the VW or MINI, and it doesn’t de­liver as much com­fort.

The chas­sis isn’t as well set up be­cause the car isn’t as com­posed as its ri­vals over bumps. Although all three cars are on the stiff side, the Out­lander doesn’t have the so­phis­ti­ca­tion when it comes to ride qual­ity, and com­bined with its rel­a­tive lack of re­fine­ment on the move, it means the Mit­subishi is more tax­ing over longer jour­neys.

Once the bat­tery has been de­pleted the nat­u­rally as­pi­rated en­gine doesn’t feel as punchy as its tur­bocharged ri­vals, while the fuel econ­omy dips fur­ther due to the heav­ier body. It means the Mit­subishi is more out of its com­fort zone on the mo­tor­way, but if you can keep the bat­tery topped up, it makes more sense around town.

PRAC­TI­CAL­ITY

GIVEN the Mit­subishi’s size, its 463-litre boot isn’t that large. That’s partly be­cause the bat­tery pack eats into space, so the load bay isn’t quite as us­able.

The PHEV loses the stan­dard Out­lander’s seven-seat ver­sa­til­ity, too, so there’s only space for five here. How­ever, it’s roomier in the rear than its more com­pact ri­vals, while the taller roofline gives good head­room in the back.

Stor­age is good, but not too much bet­ter than the Coun­try­man or Golf be­cause those cars feel bet­ter pack­aged and more mod­ern. How­ever, no load­ing lip for the boot and a big tail­gate means the Mit­subishi is easy to load, while the Out­lander’s higher ride height helps en­try and exit, com­pared with the lower Golf in par­tic­u­lar.

OWN­ER­SHIP

MIT­SUBISHI didn’t fea­ture as a brand in our Driver Power sur­vey, although it did achieve a place in our list of deal­ers. How­ever, it’s noth­ing to shout about; of­fi­cial garages took 30th spot out of 31 brands.

The Out­lander fares bet­ter when it comes to safety. With au­tonomous brak­ing plus seven airbags, it achieved a five-star Euro NCAP rat­ing.

RUN­NING COSTS

ALL three mod­els claim im­pres­sive com­bined fuel econ­omy, but un­less you charge them for nearly ev­ery jour­ney, they won’t yield econ­omy as high as their claims.

We plugged in the cars to max­imise ef­fi­ciency, and the VW came out on top with 47.3mpg. The MINI was sec­ond with 45.1mpg and the Mit­subishi av­er­aged 39. 2mpg.

The VW will save around £65 in fuel a year over the MINI and £275 over the Out­lander. Th­ese are still re­spectable re­sults com­pared with con­ven­tion­ally pow­ered al­ter­na­tives, while the low CO2 emis­sions mean ma­jor tax breaks for busi­ness users.

Spa­cious cabin is down to Out­lander’s big­ger di­men­sions REAR

CHARG­ING Flap on rear driver’s side flank re­veals stan­dard and CHADEMO fast charge sock­ets

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