Mit­subishi Out­lander PHEV

Clever Mit­subishi wraps ad­vanced EV tech­nol­ogy in New Zealand's favourite body style, the SUV, says Damien O’car­roll.

New Zealand Company Vehicle - - CONTENTS -

The Mit­subishi Out­lander is a ve­hi­cle that just keeps get­ting bet­ter, and the plug-in hybrid ver­sion is no dif­fer­ent. In fact, it is prob­a­bly the model that proves this fact more than any other in the range. While it could be said that the Out­lander PHEV doesn’t do any­thing par­tic­u­larly rev­o­lu­tion­ary, what it does do is use com­mon tech­nol­ogy in a way that hadn’t been used – or rather com­bined – be­fore. For the pub­lic, the real ge­nius of the Out­lander PHEV is that Mit­subishi also had the good sense to wrap it all up in that most pop­u­lar and prac­ti­cal of body styles – the SUV. Ki­wis love an SUV and we are also in­creas­ingly fall­ing in love with hy­brids and elec­tric ve­hi­cles, so some­thing like the Out­lander PHEV is ar­guably the per­fect car for our largely ur­ban-dwelling, but ad­ven­tur­ous life­styles. When it first ap­peared the Out­lander PHEV had a use­ful, but slightly stingy all-elec­tric range frus­trat­ingly close to be­ing per­fect for a daily com­mute. But not quite. At its last up­date, how­ever, Mit­subishi up­graded the Out­lander PHEV to make it far more use­ful in a round-town gas-free run­ning sense. Not only has the bat­tery pack been beefed up to pro­vide greater elec­tric-only range, but Mit­subishi has also added a fastcharger CHADEMO plug, mean­ing that the Out­lander can now use the ever-in­creas­ing num­ber of fast charg­ing sta­tions pop­ping up around the coun­try, in­clud­ing the Char­genet “Elec­tric High­way” net­work. The in­crease in bat­tery power now means a us­able, real-world range of more than 40km (Mit­subishi claims 52km, but it de­pends on how you drive), which makes it en­tirely pos­si­ble for most peo­ple to use ab­so­lutely no petrol in daily us­age. Mit­subishi says the bat­tery can be charged at a fast charge sta­tion in around 20 min­utes, but in the real world charg­ing a plug-in hybrid overnight at home is where the real value lies. In ef­fect it al­lows you to sim­ply for­get about what is pro­pel­ling the Out­lander and sim­ply drive it like a nor­mal car – with no range anxiety and still us­ing hardly any petrol. The Out­lander PHEV re­turns fuel econ­omy sim­i­lar to that of a much smaller SUV, which while still good, means that the Out­lander PHEV is very much bet­ter suited to be­ing a daily ur­ban com­muter with the abil­ity to do big­ger dis­tances when needed, rather than do­ing them on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. While the top spec VRX is the hero of the Out­lander PHEV range, this en­try level XLS is ar­guably the bet­ter ve­hi­cle. For $7,000 less than the VRX, the XLS still comes fully loaded with safety and tech­nol­ogy. Aside from all its fuel-sav­ing clev­er­ness, the Out­lander PHEV’S strong­est qual­ity is its sheer ver­sa­til­ity and prac­ti­cal­ity. Easy to drive and live with around town and out on the open road, but with all the space and use­ful­ness of a de­cent sized SUV, it re­ally is the ideal blend of SUV free­dom and elec­tric fru­gal­ity and en­vi­ron­men­tal re­spon­si­bil­ity.

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