£34,304 - £45,554 Price range
When the original Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was launched back in the spring of 2014, no other manufacturer offered anything that matched its blend of low running costs, an affordable price and a practical interior.
It certainly struck a cord with buyers, who have so far bought more than 8,000 of them – impressive given that altogether less than 1,000 plug-in hybrids were sold in 2014.
Even now the PHEV’s hybrid powertrain offers something unique against rivals such as the Nissan Qashqai, Mazda CX-5 and Honda CR-V. It’s even more tempting when bought via one of carwow’s trusted dealers who (when including the Government’s £2,500 plug-in car grant) will make you a healthy average saving of £6,410.
The old PHEV wasn’t perfect. We bemoaned its conservative styling and plain interior – two problems that this heavily facelift model looks to address.
Straight from the off the signs are good. Courtesy of what Mitsubishi calls a ‘dynamic shield’ front end, the latest model is much more distinctive to look at with gloss-black touches and piercing headlights with LED daytime running lights. Redesigned LED tail lights feature at the rear and the car also gets new wheels and a revised range of colours.
Inside, the interior design remains much as it did in the old car, but quality has taken a massive leap thanks to soft-touch black plastics (replacing the old grey ones) and classier trim finishes. Mitsubishi has also worked hard to make the car noticeably quieter than the old model.
Changes to the hybrid system mean it now gets from 0-25mph two seconds quicker than the old model – so it feels a good deal more spritely off the lights – yet fuel economy has been improved and CO2 emissions lowered. To help with the transition from conventional to hybrid power Mitsubishi will even fit a home-charge unit (usually costing £279) free of charge – it replenishing the batteries 60 per cent quicker than a standard domestic plug.
Equipment levels for the PHEV were always strong, but even they have been improved upon. On top of the rear parking sensors, cruise control, automatic lights and wipers, and Bluetooth phone connectivity fitted to the base model, buyers now get an auto-dimming rear view mirror, extra storage and an additional 12v charging socket.
Cheapest to buy: PHEV 2.0 GX3H Auto 5dr
Cheapest to run: PHEV 2.0 GX4HS Auto 5dr
Fastest model: PHEV 2.0 GX4HS Auto 5dr
Most popular model: PHEV 2.0 GX4HS Auto 5dr
The Outlander PHEV’s interior is largely the same as in the regular Outlander. That means a fairly simple design, made from robust-feeling materials, and a nice piano black finish to the centre console. What you don’t get is any real feeling of excitement.
Only a few details mark it out from the regular Outlander. One is that the rev-counter has been replaced by a battery charge and assistance gauge, another is that a typical gear lever makes way for a silver-coloured joystick that selects the car’s transmission mode. It’s all easy to operate and makes the Outlander PHEV feel completely conventional to drive.
Those who have owned the first generation PHEV will notice several updates post-2015. The steering wheel has been redesigned and is now heated, seat comfort has been improved, and the central armrest is softer than before. These changes, along with Mitsubishi’s use of better quality plastics, means it feels more premium than the car that came before it.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV passenger space
Thanks to a tall SUV body, the Outlander has enough head and legroom to fit tall adults, while a flat floor in the rear is a bonus because it means the middle rear seat passenger has somewhere to put their feet. Unlike the diesel Outlander, the PHEV is not available with seven seats – the electric motor for the rear axle takes up the space where the sixth and seventh occupants’ feet would normally reside.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV boot space
The extra electric motor does little to harm boot space, though – 463 litres is available in which to stow away your luggage. The Outlander’s big boot opening and flat floor make it easy to load the car and with the rear seats down, maximum load capacity increases to more than 1,600 litres.
The PHEV drives much like a regular Outlander, though naturally electric running dominates the driving experience if you’re not used to battery-powered cars. In general, the Outlander PHEV stays in near-silent electric-only mode around town, with the petrol engine kicking in under heavy acceleration.
The 2015 model gained a number of changes designed to enhance the driving experience. The front suspension has stiffened up to make it feel more composed through the corners, while the power steering system has been tuned to offer a more natural feel.
While there are rivals which feel sharper (BMW X3) and some more comfortable (Nissan X-Trail) the Outlander manages to strike a decent balance between the two. Grip, in particular, is excellent; Super All-Wheel Drive control – a variation of the system developed for the Mitsubishi Evo rally-bred sports saloons – can brake individual wheels in order to compensate for any loss of grip, pulling the car through corners with confidence.
Because electric motors are placed on both axles, the Outlander is currently the only hybrid which can operate as a four-wheel drive vehicle regardless of the selected drive mode.
Refinement has been improved too. Panel gaps have been tightened, window glass is thicker and the redesigned front air dam aims to channel air around the car more smoothly. These changes all help to reduce wind noise.
That isn’t to say the driving experience is perfect, though. We’d still prefer the ride to be a little smoother, and there is a little too much tyre roar coming from the front wheels. The latter may be more noticeable due to a lack of noise elsewhere, but the Land Rover Discovery Sport is better in this area.
The PHEV’s hybrid system can operate in one of several ways: the battery can be charged by the petrol engine, it can provide power to the electric motors for electric-only drive, or team up with the petrol engine in hybrid mode when more power is required.
The battery pack is large by hybrid standards, so an electric only range is a highly competitive 32 miles – only the much smaller Volkswagen Golf GTE and Audi A3 e-tron are capable of more. While it might not be possible to match 32 miles in everyday driving – we achieved nearer to 18 miles – it should make the average commute almost completely free of petrol use.
And fuel economy? Our time with the PHEV was spent predominantly in city driving, with several miles spent at the national speed limit, and we averaged 481.8mpg. Road tax is also free. Of course, on longer journeys and at motorway speeds that figure will reduce towards that of a regular non-hybrid SUV, but most of the time the PHEV will be incredibly cheap to run.
One major improvement brought about in the 2015 updates is the sharper EV-mode acceleration. It reaches 25mph two seconds sooner than before, making it feel sprightlier in town. With an 11.0 second 0-62mph time it’s a little lethargic at motorway speeds, but progress is undoubtedly smooth and relaxing.
The regenerative braking (a means of regaining energy through the electric motors when you slow down) works well; you can adjust the speed by which the car decelerates via steering wheel mounted paddles. In the two most aggressive of the five regenerative modes, the brake lights activate to warn drivers behind that you’re slowing.
The Outlander PHEV has been individually tested by safety experts Euro NCAP, and achieved a full five-star score. Adult and child occupant protection is high, as is Mitsubishi’s roster of safety assist systems.
There are airbags for driver and front passenger, side head and thorax airbags and a driver’s knee airbag. Rear seats and the front passenger seat have Isofix points, there are seatbelt reminders for all passengers and a driver-set speed limiter is fitted. In addition, Mitsubishi has loaded the PHEV with kit like Forward Collision Mitigation to prevent impacts – first warning the driver, then applying steady braking and finally braking hard to prevent or mitigate a collision.
The GX3 is the base model but still gets rear parking sensors, cruise control, automatic lights and wipers and Bluetooth phone connectivity. With the facelift came extras such as an auto-dimming rear view mirror, extra storage and an additional 12v charging socket.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV GX4
The GX4 is the next step up and it gets a sun sunroof, satellite navigation, an electric tailgate and a seven-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system. Additional kit for 2015 includes leather seats, a 360-degree camera, powerful LED headlights and a heated steering wheel.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV GX5
The GX5 is the top of the line and gets full leather upholstery, front and rear parking sensors mood lighting, heated front and rear seats and also side steps to ease getting in and out.
With the addition of a hybrid system, the Mitsubishi Outlander has transformed from a dependable yet unremarkable SUV into a genuinely talented and tempting machine. The electric drivetrain makes it smoother to drive than the diesel variant, while the competitive purchase price and potentially tiny running costs renders the diesel variant rather redundant to most.
Any company car users after an SUV can consider the PHEV a no-brainer thanks to the low BIK rates, but private buyers will see benefits too provided they have somewhere to plug it in. Fast chargers can be installed in your home relatively cheaply and will significantly reduce overall charge time. The Outlander PHEV is one of the most sensible plug-in purchases yet.
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