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Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 2014 review

Mitsubishi Outlander is a hi-tech, plug-in hybrid which delivers 148mpg and proves good to drive, too
Verdict
4
No other SUV can match the Outlander PHEV’s running costs – and it feels a well resolved car, too. The refinement is excellent and no other car combines this amount of space with such good fuel economy. The ride is a bit unsettled and the handling not particularly sharp, but Mitsubishi deserves praise for its brave approach.

The Outlander PHEV has jumped the competition, and come March it’s set to be the first plug-in hybrid SUV on sale in the UK.
As a result of its hi-tech powertrain, this four-wheel-drive, five-seat SUV can run on electricity for 32 miles, and promises fuel economy of 148mpg and CO2 emissions of 44g/km.

Those figures mean some big savings for buyers, including a £5,000 refund from the Government by way of its plug-in car grant and exemption from road tax and the London Congestion Charge. They also ensure company car drivers will pay just five per cent Benefit in Kind – the cleanest Nissan Qashqai sits in a 14 per cent band.

But what’s the Outlander like to drive? In a word, silent. The PHEV is much quieter than the regular diesel Outlander, no matter which operating mode it’s in – petrol engine and electric motors working together, or as a pure EV.

That’s partially to do with enhanced sound deadening, but also because the hybrid powertrain favours running on electricity only. The petrol engine is used mostly as an electricity generator – much like that in the Vauxhall Ampera – and is audible when it starts up, but it’s never loud or rough.

At the Outlander PHEV’s heart is a large-capacity battery and a pair of electric motors – one on each axle to provide four-wheel drive – that generate a combined 161bhp, and when you add in the engine it’s a total of 204bhp.

When the battery charge drops below a certain level, the petrol engine kicks in to generate electricity. Mitsubishi calls this Series mode, which will work up to 70mph. After that, a clutch engages to connect the engine directly to the front wheels, providing drive while recharging the battery at the same time, hence the 43bhp boost in maximum power.
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