Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 2014 review – What Car?

Electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles are
normally pretty easy to spot. They’re usually small standalone models
that are styled to look a little bit futuristic. Things like the
BMW i3 and Nissan Leaf are good examples. What they are not normally, however, is
big SUV’s that are just as comfortable in the
mud as they are around town like the Mitsubishi Outlander plug in hybrid
electric vehicle, or PHEV for short. Even though this car
looks pretty much exactly the same as the
standard Outlander from the outside and by and large on the inside there is actually two different
power sources underneath. There is an electric motor, which will
promise to run this car for about 30 miles on charge alone, and then there is a petrol
engine, which kicks in when the electricity runs out. One of the big advantages of running an
electric car is the noise, or rather the lack of it and, if you listen the PHEV is wonderfully hushed, especially when it’s running on electric power alone. There is a little bit more noise when
the petrol engine kicks in but to be honest you be very hard pushed to notice it and
you only really do so when you’re properly putting your foot down and overtaking. One of the other benefits that you often
hear about with electric cars is that instant sort of kick of acceleration you get
when you put your foot down. Unfortunately, that’s not something you
get with this car, but to be honest that’d been a bit weird if you did. I mean this is a quite high-riding SUV and if it performed like a, well,
performance car then that would be a little bit strange. So
in many ways this car driving pretty much like the normal diesel Outlander is no bad thing. It handles much the same as well, although because the batteries sit quite low down
in this car it does give it a little bit more stability when you’re going round corners. In fact the things that make it feel most like you’re in an electric car these paddles behind the steering wheel.
Now normally those are in most other cars used for changing
gear but in this car you actually alter the level
of brake regeneration that you get. So if you pull on this side then every time you
lift your foot off the throttle then it does loads of braking for you, so, especially when you are around town you barely need to touch the brake pedal at all. If you are going down the motorway then you probably don’t want that quite so much so you can take it all the way off so it is just like an
ordinary car. The seating position in the Outlander is
really good. You’re sat very high up, it is easy to get in
and out and everything – wheel and seat – has got lots of adjustment. Also, because of this high seating position you’ve got fantastic visibility all-round front and
back. But the biggest problem with this cabin
is this middle section here really. It just looks and feels really cheap and really quite dated, especially for a car
of this class. All materials just feel a bit flimsy, and
nothing’s got that feeling of quality that hope for from a car like this. Now the main controls, to be fair, are actually pretty simple to use. Things like the temperature and climate control are all set out very simply here. But it is
a bit odd that some of the other controls are tucked away over here. So you’ve got two separate places you’ve got to look at. But the biggest culprit is this screen. It’s an aftermarket unit. It’s clearly not
properly integrated into the dash and it’s just really really fiddly. These
buttons on the touchscreen are really small and you’ve got to be very
accurate with your stabbing motions and the chances are you will, on several occasions, end up pressing
the wrong button. Now what with the petrol engine up front
and the batteries there is quite a bit of stuff to fit
into the Outlander, and you expect that something has to give practicality
wise. The Volvo V60 plug-in hybrid, for example, has a boot that is a 125-litres smaller than the diesel equivalent, However that
is not the case with the Outlander. This boot is pretty much exactly the same size as
that on the diesel version. The only thing is you
can’t get a seven-seat version of this car whereas you can with diesel. The other difference is, under the boot there isn’t a huge amount of storage. There is not many clever bits, but there are a couple of big bins either side. The space in the five seats
that you do get is very good though. Headroom is very generous, and leg room is fantastic.
You get huge amounts of room that way and there is this almost totally flat floor and
that means that you can get a third person in the middle with almost no problems
whatsoever. Another totally flat thing is the
loading bay. There is almost no entry-lip, and when the
seats are all folded flat it is completely even. However, it’s a bit of a problem actually folding the seats, because you have to come around to the side, flip the bases up and then drop the backs. It’s not exactly
a one-handed movement. But how well this car drives, its
practicality etc, won’t really matter compared to one thing for a lot of
people, and that is how much it costs. We are quite used to the idea that plug-in cars cost a fair bit more than conventional petrols and diesel etc, but that
isn’t the case with this car. It costs, like-for-like, pretty much exactly the
same as the equivalent diesel – once you factor in the
government’s £5000 low-emission vehicle grant that is. The only thing you miss out on is that third row of seats and a tiny amount of space in the boot. Running costs should be good as well. That 148 miles-per-gallon official fuel economy might be a bit of a pipe dream for many
people but if you’re doing a lot of miles just around town on short journeys then you’ll do many of those on electric alone. A knock-on effect is
that has a tiny CO2 emissions figure, of just 48 g/km. That means it’s going
to be in the lowest company car tax band until at least the end of the decade, and also you get a free tax disc alongside that. We would say that if
you’re going to be doing longer journies then the diesel is a much more
worthwhile car to consider – this car really is, as we say, better for short
journeys around town. The PHEV only comes in the
top three trims on the Outlander – that’s GX3, GX4 and GX5 and all three are very well equipped. All of them get
dual-zone climate control, Bluetooth and automatic lights, while the GX4
adds some serious luxury kit like electrically adjustable seats and a reversing camera and parking
sensors. If you feel the need to go up to GX5 then you also get an
electronic tailgate. You can also download an app to your
phone that allows you to control when the car charges, see how much battery there is left, and
even turn on the heater remotely before you get into the car. Now with all this technology on offer, though, it is a bit of a shame that you have to go to the top level trim to get DAB Digital Radio as standard.
The Outlander PHEV is a bit of a strange mixture then. It’s
great in some areas but it’s rubbish in some others. But you can pretty much
ignore that really cheap feeling interior, the infotainment system that
feels really complicated and a bit naff, and the fact you can’t get a
seven-seat version of this car because it will be so cheap to run
comparatively, especially as a company car. The hybrid Outlander
trumps all of its rivals by being no more
expensive to buy than the equivalent diesel. Now, bear in mind it won’t fit in with everybody’s driving needs but if it does this could be a very cheap
way to run an SUV. For more information on the
Outlander search for Mitsubishi Outlander on, but
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About the Author: Michael Flood

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