South Western Times

Sparking a power surge

- SAM JEREMIC

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV first appeared in Australian showrooms in 2014, and although it hasn’t kickstarte­d a plug-in hybrid revolution as yet, it is still one of the most well-rounded offerings available to those keen to taste electric motoring without taking the plunge on a purely electric vehicle.

It has had constant tweaks over the years, which continued in 2020 when the new GSR variant slotted in between the entry level ES and top-spec Exceed trims.

Costing $52,490 plus on-roads, the GSR scores a Bilstein premium suspension, electric tailgate, black exterior highlights, eight-speaker audio and extra safety kit above the ES.

As always with a PHEV, you’re forking out extra for the hybrid powertrain.

In the Outlander, it consists of a 94kW/199Nm 2.4-litre petrol engine combining with a 13.8kWh battery powering two electric motors — one front and one rear.

Mitsi says it offers a combined max output of 157kW and 332Nm, while also offering 54km of pure electric driving.

The max output is impressive for a mainstream medium SUV, and the Outlander PHEV never feels sluggish, despite the hybrid system adding 220kg to the gross vehicle mass compared to a petrol-powered Outlander.

Accelerati­on is aided by the instant torque of the electric motors, plus all-wheel-drive.

As for the electric range, the most we ever saw on the display was 50km, and most we covered at least 45km before the petrol engine took over — easily enough for our daily commute.

The Outlander PHEV can get thirsty when the petrol takes over — it will also kick in when you plant your foot unless you’re in EV mode — but it’s difficult to say what our overall fuel use was for the week as the accumulate­d drive info would reset with every charge.

Given we had a range of 580km, both when we picked up the car and dropped it off, it’s safe to say it was next to nothing.

And unlike some electrifie­d vehicles, which take an age to charge without access to high-speed charging or home wallboxes, the Outlander PHEV allows you to take full advantage of the green tech without any infrastruc­ture changes at home: the battery takes about seven hours to fully charge from zero via a standard household socket, meaning it was at 100 per cent every morning.

It also has vehicle-to-grid and vehicle-to-home capability, meaning it can power your home via a bi-directiona­l charger. The GSR’s suspension makes for a comfortabl­e drive, and it’s also quiet (especially driving under electric power, obviously).

Elsewhere, it’s pretty much like a normal Outlander — even the boot isn’t compromise­d, with the 463 litres available only 14 down on the petrol five-seat Outlander.

True, it’s not an amazing amount of cargo room for a medium SUV these days, but that speaks to the Outlander range’s age rather than a PHEV-specific issue.

The Outlander PHEV is still pricey for a medium SUV, but it also remains one of the least compromise­d easy-to-live-with plug-in vehicles on the market. The new GSR spec is probably the pick of the range.

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