Home / Auto / New Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV REVIEW – Hybrid SUV gets even better with new upgrades

New Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV REVIEW – Hybrid SUV gets even better with new upgrades

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (Image: MITSUBISHI)

It was a time when petrol was cheap and environmental issues were a fringe concern. Now it’s the opposite and, once again, Mitsubishi finds itself with the right car at the right time.

Its plug-in hybrid Outlander promises to combine SUV attributes with running costs and economy that would trump a supermini.

The Outlander Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle, to give it its full name, was first launched in 2014 and offered buyers the benefits of electric car motoring and the flexibility of a few hundred miles of petrol-powered motoring for longer journeys.

Charging times were only a few hours not the then usual snail-like overnight process. And it was all wrapped up in a popular and practical SUV body.

Factor in the government grant that shaved a useful chunk off the asking price and Mitsubishi found it had a winner on its hands.

Since the car’s 2014 launch the car has passed the 100,000 European sales milestone and has consistently been the UK’s best selling plug-in hybrid with 39,000 having left British showrooms since then.

Not bad considering that, back in 2014 before the Outlander’s UK arrival, the plug-in hybrid market had just crept into four figures.

This latest update sees a number of modest cosmetic changes plus, crucially, tweaks to how the car drives and significant improvements to its engine and battery system.

The car’s restyled grille and its LED headlights plus new tail lights are the most obvious indicators that you’re looking at a new Outlander.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (Image: MITSUBISHI)

And while the car has retained its purposeful SUV stance it manages to be one of the few in this class that has eschewed the chrome-laden and often aggressive styling of some rivals.

There is only one engine choice here and it’s also a beneficiary of Mitsubishi’s update strategy. The petrol engine has been increased from 2.0 to 2.4-litres, which sees power output rise to 133bhp.

Similarly, the Outlander’s rear electric motor has also been boosted and is now rated at 94bhp – up from 81bhp.

The final piece of the plug-in puzzle is the car’s battery, which has also received a welcome 15 per cent hike in capacity to 13.8 kWh.

The bottom line is a mid-size SUV that prodcues a ridiculously low 46g/km emissions – far less than your average supermini – and has the potential to return 139mpg thanks to the combined efforts of the battery, electric motor and sparing use of the petrol engine.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (Image: MITSUBISHI)

What this really means for your daily commute is you can confidently go further and faster than before. Opting to drive in the car’s pure electric mode could see you and your light right foot reach the maximum 28 mile battery-only range.

Helping you squeeze the most out of the battery is a five-stage energy recovery system that channels the car’s coasting performance to top up the battery.

Ratchet up the energy regeneration settings and you can also simulate mild to moderate braking performance without touching the brake pedal.

Want to go faster? If the Outlander senses you want some serious acceleration it’ll deploy the petrol engine to work in tandem with the battery and electric motor to give you that all-important boost.

Acceleration is indeed brisk, not pure electric car quick, but more than enough to hustle this mid-size SUV along for safer overtaking on country roads, for example.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (Image: MITSUBISHI )

As a consequence of the engine and motor upgrades, both the 0 to 60mph time of 10.5 seconds and the Outlander’s mid-range acceleration performance has improved a fraction, although in the real world the near instant response from the car’s electric motor easily triumphs over similar sized diesel-powered SUVs.

The Outlander’s rapid acceleration is nice to have but it’s not the reason many are attracted to the car. Ride comfort, steering feel and the above average levels of cabin refinement encourage a generally relaxed driving attitude.

Letting the car figure out the best way to juggle the engine and battery system to deliver the most economical outcome while you enjoy the view from the lofty driving position is a particularly satisfying feeling.

And Mitsubishi has made that easier with a subtle revamp of the Outlander’s cabin. New seat designs, improved instrumentation and switchgear, plus higher levels of standard kit mean the Outlander ownership experience is slowly encroaching on the premium brands commanding more money.

That a growing family or four adults can sit in relative comfort is welcome, as is the 463 litre bootspace complete with easy to fold rear seats and an extra 35 litres of space under the boot floor.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (Image: MITSUBISHI)

Value for money has been the cornerstone of the Outlander PHEV’s success since its 2014 launch, and this latest variant continues this trend. Including the £2,500 government grant, prices start from a reasonable £34,225, which gets you into the entry-level Juro model.

Although there’s nothing basic about this variant, thanks to its heated windscreen, Apple and Android compatability, heated front seats, dual zone climate control, reversing camera and cruise control.

Step up to the predicted best selling 4h and you can add leather seats, LED headlights, powered tailgate, blind spot and cross traffic alert systems and a 360 degree parking camera.

The flagship 5h and 5hs models boast premium grade leather seats, colour coordinated cabin trim and high-end Alpine-branded audio systems.

You certainly can’t accuse Mitsubishi of cutting corners. Even opting for the mid-range 4h is unlikely to break the bank at £37,000 including the government grant, although with the growing trend for contract hire and leasing, monthly payment plans are also expected to be competitive.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (Image: MITSUBISHI)

This numbers game approach extends to the Outlander’s running costs. Its long standing appeal has its roots in its low emissions performance and the ability to charge the battery from a household socket in only a few hours, not the overnight routine familiar to most pure EV owners.

For company car users with busy, often unpredictable schedules, the Outlander’s in-built flexibility is a godsend. You won’t be stranded if you run out of battery and topping up need only last as long as a business meeting.

You pay minimal tax as part of the car’s emissions and you’re already future proofed for when cities introduce low emission zones that mandate EV-only running to avoid paying a charge to enter. At the weekends the Outlander is big enough to double as a family wagon, plus it boasts a 1,500kg maximum tow rating.

Whether you’re a company car driver seeking to minimise your tax outlay or a private buyer who maybe doesn’t rack up the miles but does want a spacious, flexible and greener-than-most SUV, the Outlander sure ticks a lot of boxes. And now it does it in greater style and comfort.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (Image: MITSUBISHI)

Logbook Lowdown

Model: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Price range: £34,255 – £43,100 inc govt grant

Engine: Petrol – 2.4-litre plus 13.8kWh battery

Power: 0 to 60mph in 10.5 seconds, 106mph top speed

Average fuel economy: 139mpg

CO2 emissions: 46g/km

Rivals: Kia Nero PHV, Volkswagen Passat GTE, Volvo XC90 T8 PHEV

Rating: 9/10

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