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Hybrid Mitsubishi without high price

07:01 03 September 2014

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a petrol/electric hybrid.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a petrol/electric hybrid.

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Mitsubishi’s new Outlander plug-in petrol hybrid boasts a sensible price and real-world versatility, says Iain Dooley of the Press Association.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV GX4hs

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV GX4hs, £34,999 (including £5,000 government grant)

Engine: 2.0-litre petrol, four-cylinder turbo petrol and twin electric motors producing combined 200bhp

Transmission: Single-speed transmission with electric motors driving the wheels

Performance: 0-62mph 11 seconds; top speed 106mph

MPG: 148 combined

CO2 emissions: 44g/km

What’s new?

While Mitsubishi’s latest Outlander offers a pleasingly revised, refined ownership experience, this model is a plug-in hybrid – hence PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle). Mitsubishi might not have the same track record as the likes of Toyota for hybrids, but this Outlander hits the ground running with boasts of 100-plus mile fuel economy figures and ultra-low CO2 ratings.

Mitsubishi has opted for a petrol-electric set-up, claimed to offer high levels of refinement along with the low running costs associated with petrol motoring. The car’s 2.0-litre engine partners with two electric motors – one at each end – so all-wheel drive is retained despite the absence of a propshaft, while the car can automatically channel power where it’s needed, such as a front-wheel drive mode for urban duties.

A press of a button transforms this Outlander into a capable 4x4 no less able than diesel versions. This activity-focused approach continues inside, where there’s ample space for five in the practical cabin. The hybrid hardware sees the loss of the regular car’s third row of seats, but the upshot is a flat, wide load space.

Looks and image

The Outlander’s streamlined exterior is a welcome change to the rough and rugged theme of many rivals. It also makes the Outlander a slippery beast which should help its overall economy performance.

Famous more for purposeful off-roaders and rally replicas, Mitsubishi doesn’t have much of a track record when it comes to alternatively-fuelled transport but the engineers in Japan have caught up quickly with more switched-on European car-makers, with the Outlander PHEV an accomplished first attempt.

Space and practicality

If the only complaint is that you sacrifice the regular Outlander’s third row of seats to make way for the hybrid hardware, Mitsubishi has little to worry about. The car’s cabin is spacious and practical – there’s ample oddments storage space, head and legroom fore and aft plus a wide, flat load space. The Outlander’s durable but classy cabin materials should easily resist the rigours of family life, while the powered tailgate is a nice, practical touch.

Behind the wheel

The hybrid Outlander behaves a lot like a regular model, although the quiet electric power running is a giveaway. It’s an easy car to drive, irrespective of power source, and the beauty of the hybrid is that it takes care of everything irrespective of road conditions. The regenerative braking can be dialled up so you almost don’t need to touch the brake pedal – a useful characteristic for urban driving but it does take a bit of getting used to.

This Outlander’s off-roading skills are also clever as the two electric motors work together to deliver a total-traction experience like that of a diesel Outlander but without a bulky propshaft. Keeping you informed is a clear and colourful display detailing the car’s various systems, from which way the energy is flowing to reams of data outlining fuel economy and eco performance.

Value for money

Plug-in hybrids aren’t known for being cheap, but Mitsubishi has pegged the Outlander’s price to that of the comparable diesel-powered model. There’s a small line-up boasting good to generous levels of kit, while the main attraction for business-users will be the car’s tax-efficient properties – low running costs, zero congestion charge rating, ability to offset the car’s cost against business activities. Factor in the potential ability to commute on electric power alone and charge up on low-cost electricity, and the hybrid Outlander starts to make sense.

Who would buy one?

The hybrid Outlander is likely to appeal mainly to business users but if you want family-friendly practicality, the ability to go off-road and tow plus minimise your tax outlay, this petrol-electric plug-in Outlander deserves serious consideration.

You’ll need to do the sums but, with a modest asking price compared to its rivals, there’s every chance it’ll trump a diesel sport utility vehicle on running costs if you spend a lot of time in the city.

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