Elec­tric field

Hello Mit­subishi Out­lander PHEV

Top Gear (UK) - - GARAGE | AWARDS 2018 - SAM PHILIP

As TG’s newly des­ig­nated plug-in hy­brid cor­re­spon­dent (se­cret power: sniff­ing out any va­cant pub­lic charge point within a fivemile ra­dius), I’m mov­ing up in the world. Quite lit­er­ally: from the hatch-height Hyundai Ioniq, to a seat­ing po­si­tion a foot or so higher in the Out­lander PHEV.

Yes, Bri­tain’s best-sell­ing plug-in hy­brid – over 40,000 shifted at last count – has joined the TG fleet. On pa­per, at least, it seems a slightly more con­fus­ing propo­si­tion than the Ioniq, which, af­ter all, is an un­abashed sub­ur­ban­ite. But a proper muddy-wel­lies SUV – don’t be fooled by the facelift, there’s still far more farm­yard in the Out­lander’s DNA than you’ll find in that of a Tiguan or Ko­diaq – that’ll haul you down a win­ter farm track but also saunter through Knights­bridge on elec­tric power alone... well, that’s quite the schiz­o­phrenic sell, no?

That said, if the Out­lander can make the Jekyll-and-Hyde act stick, it could be a win­ner: two cars for the price of one. Zero-emis­sions ur­ban com­mut­ing by day, ex­treme green­lan­ing by night. Mo­tor­ing, solved. As, you might ar­gue, it should be, for nearly forty grand.

First im­pres­sion: when did the Out­lander get good-look­ing? I’d al­ways had it pegged as a bit of a frumpy old goose, but the 2019 up­date takes those util­i­tar­ian lines so fa­mil­iar from Evos of old, and gar­nishes them with some rather pleas­ing mod­ern de­tails. Nice wheels, too.

On the in­side, the farm ’n’ fash­ion mash-up is per­haps a frac­tion less ef­fec­tive. I’m a big fan of the chunky heater switches – op­er­a­ble, no doubt, while wear­ing Ever­est-spec woolly mitts – but the info-screens and hy­brid­ity dis­plays do look a gen­er­a­tion be­hind those of, say, that Ioniq over the page. Might not seem like a big deal, but in a plug-in, you want to feel you’re at the cut­ting edge of touch­screen tech and all that. The Out­lander’s tech feels a lit­tle… first-gen iPhone.

The charge ca­bles and sock­ets, too, aren’t quite so swishily as­sem­bled as the Hyundai’s. But again, per­haps that’s ex­cus­able in a car that’s as likely to be found parked in an ac­tual river as out­side the River Cafe. And hey, if it all works a treat, I couldn’t care less…

The an­swer to ev­ery mo­tor­ing sit­u­a­tion pos­si­ble? We’ll see...

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