Recharge for na­tion’s best sell­ing plug-in

Macclesfield Express - - TVWEEK -

NOW this week’s test car has a def­i­nite unique sell­ing point that makes it stand out from the crowd… a claimed 156mpg.

Be­cause it is the 2016 Mit­subishi Out­lander PHEV (Plug in Hy­brid Elec­tric Ve­hi­cle) which has a two-litre con­ven­tional petrol en­gine and two pow­er­ful elec­tric mo­tors.

And that means the best of both worlds, good 4x4 per­for­mance and great fuel econ­omy, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing it is a fair-sized SUV.

So how does it work? The PHEV au­to­mat­i­cally switches be­tween elec­tric, se­ries hy­brid and par­al­lel hy­brid modes. In elec­tric only set­ting the car can do up to 32 miles on a full charge – at speeds of up to 72mph.

When the bat­tery power falls be­low a cer­tain level ‘se­ries hy­brid’ kicks in, where the petrol en­gine acts as a gen­er­a­tor, charg­ing up the bat­tery while the elec­tric mo­tors still do all the work. In ‘par­al­lel hy­brid’ both the elec­tric mo­tors and petrol en­gine work to­gether to give max­i­mum per­for­mance for higher speed driv­ing.

The car can also re­cover elec­tric­ity via re­gen­er­a­tive brak­ing, stor­ing ki­netic en­ergy as it slows down and this can be used au­to­mat­i­cally or by the driver via ‘pad­dle shift’ style con­trols on the steer­ing wheel, some­thing I found a bit ad­dic­tive!

So that’s the tech­ni­cal stuff out of the way, but what is the car like be­hind the wheel? Well very nor­mal con­sid­er­ing its ex­otic pow­er­train and it is quicker to 60mph than the nor­mal diesel-en­gine ver­sion when all mo­tors work at once. But you find your­self adopt­ing a to­tally new way of driv­ing, con­stantly watch­ing the dash­board flow diagram to see what is go­ing on with elec­tric or petrol drive.

And those ex­cep­tional mileage claims are not too off the planet as I av­er­aged over 100mpg on one 14-mile A-roads and mo­tor­way jour­ney into M.E.N HQ at Chad­der­ton with­out try­ing too hard when I let the car switch it­self be­tween elec­tric and petrol pow­er­plants but re­mained in the ‘Eco’ set­ting.

Since its in­tro­duc­tion to the UK al­most two years ago the Out­lander PHEV had be­come a big hit for Mit­subishi – sell­ing more here than in Ja­pan and out­selling all other elec­tric and hy­brid ve­hi­cles in the UK.

Part of that suc­cess is be­cause it is cur­rently the only PHEV SUV on of­fer and to keep their car ahead Mit­subishi have brought in a se­ries of im­prove­ments for 2016, in­clud­ing a re­designed front with new LED day­time run­ning lights, grille and bumper and sim­i­lar re­vi­sions at the back.

The dash­board has also had a makeover to make con­trols sim­pler to use and give a classier look. Even on the most ba­sic GX3h (GX3h+, GX4h and GX4hs mod­els are also avail­able), equip­ment is im­pres­sive, with cli­mate con­trol and cruise con­trol across the range.

The GX4h gets leather seats, a heated steer­ing wheel, DAB ra­dio, self-lev­el­ling LED head­lights and a 360 de­gree cam­era sys­tem, while the GX4hs adds front and rear park­ing sen­sors and ad­di­tional safety fea­tures.

For 2016, the PHEV’s ac­cel­er­a­tion from rest has been im­proved and the car does now feel more lively. Per­for­mance fig­ures are 0-62 in a re­spectable 11 sec­onds (al­though it ap­pears to be faster) and top speed is 106mph.

Our test model, the near top-of-the-range GX4h auto, also had the power tail­gate and very comfy soft leather seats in its qual­ity in­te­rior.

For 2016, Mit­subishi have also re­worked the sus­pen­sion, strength­en­ing the front and rear sub­frames, while the spring and damper rates have been up­rated all round. The re­sult is an im­proved ride on road with re­duced body roll.

Un­like some elec­tric ve­hi­cles the Out­lander PHEV can be charged at home overnight with Mit­subishi claim­ing this costs just £1.20. How­ever, I could not seem to get the claimed 32 mile range, get­ting 25 at best, al­though Mit­subishi say that de­pends on how you have driven the car prior to charg­ing as it ‘re­mem­bers’ how eco­nom­i­cal you are with the right foot.

Good points are that very use­ful, if a bit slow, power tail­gate, the el­e­vated driv­ing po­si­tion, those lovely, soft leather power, heated and cooled seats, a clear and easy to use touch­screen sys­tem and loads of room front and rear plus good load­space.

On the neg­a­tive side there is lit­tle to crit­i­cise – ex­cept that plug­ging the car in ev­ery night be­comes a bit of a chore and if you do run out of elec­tric­ity the mpg fig­ures plunge well be­low the diesel ver­sion, which is around £7,000 cheaper de­pend­ing on the model. Oh yes, and the cruise con­trol is sur­pris­ingly not adap­tive.

Out­lander PHEV prices are from £31,749 to £42,999 af­ter the gov­ern­ment £2,500 plug-in car grant.

●● The Out­lander PHEV 2016

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