Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid

What is it?

This is Mitsubishi's new "green" entry to the offroader market. It takes the form of the brand's7-seat Outlander, with a plug-in hybrid electric drivetrain rather than the typical petrol and diesel units.

What powers it?

There's a two-litre, four-cylinderpetrol engine alongside two battery-powered motors capable of around 80hp apiece, one at the front and one at the back.

With this choice of power sources, the Outlander has three modes of operation. It can run on electric power alone, using only the motors to drive the car. When the battery is being heavily drained, it will fire up the petrol engine to drive the 94hp generator and recharge the batteries on the fly. For peak acceleration potential and at higher road speeds, the petrol engine can be used to drive the wheels at the same time as the motors.

How much will it cost me?

At the moment there have been no prices announced ahead of the car's move to UK market in March 2014. However the car is already sold in other European markets and it seems likely that it'll come in at around 30,000, after the 5,000 government plug-in car grant.

Anything else?

The Outlander PHEV is one of a new wave of hybrids designed to not only sit in VED Band A for a free annual tax disc but also to beat the new London Congestion Charge regulations.

Previously, pretty much all hybrids were CC exempt, but a change in regulations meant that only cars with emissions below 75g/km CO2 and the capability to travel 10 miles on electric power alone qualified for the exemption. The Outlander hits both benchmarks, with an electric range of 32 miles and just 44g/km CO2 emissions, allowing you to drive it around the CC Zone with impugnity.

We drove the regular Outlander with a 2.2 diesel unit back in July and found it competent and practical, if a little unengaging.

Any alternatives?

The Outlander PHEV is in a class of one when it comes to 7 seaters that beat the new lower London CC limit - probably the nearest green alternative is the Volvo V60 plug-in hybrid (which we drove in March), though with prices well into the 40k range it's a pricey option.

If you're just looking for a crossover that's good on fuel and cheap to tax, you might be better off with a conventionally-powered Mazda CX-5 or Honda CR-V, while the next generation Qashqai has models that slip into VED Band A. They won't get you into London free, but if you don't live in London then that's not much of an issue...

In a line?

The greenest off-roader money can buy.

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