Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV an electric dream

Eoin English has his preconceptions about electric vehicles shattered by the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV SUV

I WAS more than a little anxious embarking on this new relationship — leaving my reliable model and her quirky ways behind to take a leap of faith with a new model.

I’d heard lots of rumours about her kind. I wondered would we get on? Could I trust her? Would she let me down? And what would she cost me?

But once I figured out how to keep the spark in the relationship, it was love.

I spent a week driving the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV — the first plug-in hybrid electric vehicle available for Irish motorists. And it shattered the preconceptions I had about electric cars.

The four-wheel drive PHEV SUV is the world’s first self-power generating twin motor (permanent) four-wheel drive plug-in hybrid SUV. Mitsubishi says it offers the best of three worlds — the environmental performance of an electric vehicle (EV), the cruising range of a conventional vehicle, and the on and off-road performance of an SUV.

I was told that driving exclusively on battery would give me a maximum range of 54km. I was warned about ‘range anxiety’ — that fear only the drivers of electric vehicles experience.

Because the PHEV is a hybrid — it has a 2ltr petrol engine and a 42ltr tank which can power the electric motors when the batteries run low giving a combined cruising range of just over 820km — my range anxiety eased.

By day two, I was able to relax and enjoy the near-silent driving experience confident in the knowledge that the petrol engine would always kick in to get me where I wanted to get — and back.

I clocked up an average of 40km every day — the school run, the work commute — regular suburban and city driving.

Six days, five home charging sessions, less than half a tank of petrol and zero visits to a filling station later, I reckon the week of driving cost me about €6 in electricity.

The PHEV handles smoothly, has a responsive engine, a comfortable driving position and boasts a spacious boot.

But it was a tight squeeze fitting three child seats — a bulky baby seat, and two booster seats — across the back seat.

And remembering to plug her in every evening was a new one on me. But the pros far outweighed the cons.

At the heart of the SUV is the PHEV OS (Operating System) which incorporates three different drive modes.

The EV Drive Mode is an all-electric mode in which the front and rear motors drive the vehicle using only electricity from the drive battery.

Starting with a fully charged battery and driving exclusively in this mode gives the vehicle a maximum range of 52km, a maximum speed of 120km and produces zero CO2 tailpipe emissions.

In Series Hybrid Mode, the car is still powered by the front and rear motors, but the petrol engine operates as a generator supplying electricity to the electric motors.

The third mode, Parallel Hybrid Mode, kicks in automatically when the vehicle reaches consistently high speeds, and sees the petrol engine providing most of the motive power, assisted by the electric motors as required.

The system bias is to switch back to the EV Mode or the Series Hybrid Modes as often and as soon as possible.

But Mitsubishi has given the driver several options to manage battery power.

Two paddles either side of the steering wheel control the PHEV’s regenerative braking system which activates either when you lift your foot off the accelerator pedal or when braking.

Two buttons behind the joystick-style drive column control an on-the-go battery charge function which provides an 80% battery charge in 40 minutes, and another function to save existing battery charge level with an option to drive in EV mode later.

I drove almost exclusively in EV mode and found it depleted the battery almost completely by evening.

The vehicle has two electrical charge points — one suitable for plugging in to any three-pin plug at home and the other for rapid charging at any one of the hundreds of public charge point around the country.

A flat-to-full battery home charge takes between three to five hours and costs around €1.20, depending on your tariff.

A flat-to-80% charge at a public charge point with the other supplied cable should take less than 40-minutes. The ESB’s smartphone e-cars App will direct you to the nearest public charge point.

The Outlander PHEV Intense+ retails at €41,950, and the Outlander PHEV Instyle retails at €47,450, which compare favourably with the equivalent diesel version in the current Outlander line-up that retails at €39,950.

The retail price includes the €5,000 SEAI grant and government VRT relief for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, which is currently in place until December 31.

It is in second lowest, A1/€170 tax band.

The price, unlike other electric car manufacturers, includes the batteries.

Would I buy the Phev? Absolutely. Can we afford not to embrace electric car technology? If it’s as good as the PHEV, the answer is no.

She’s electric

- Top speed of 170km/h

- Zero CO2 tailpipe emissions in EV mode

- 60kW electric motors located on the front and rear axles

- 54km range in exclusive EV mode

- 2.0L MIVEC DOHC petrol engine (89kW/121PS)

- Total combined range of 824km

- 1.9 l/100km fuel combined economy

- Twin motor 4WD coupled with S-AWC (super all-wheel control)

- Five-Star Euro NCAP safety rating

- Five-year battery warranty


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