SEE COMMENTS From Mike Wattam at the bottom..
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Review 2014
Jekyll and Hyde SUV.
Mind-Blowing Fuel Economy One Day, Useless The Next.
On The Highway, You’ll Be Thinking About Suing For False Pretences.
In Town, You’ll Forget Where The Petrol Stations Are.
148 mpg? Preposterous, And An Understatement.
For – impressive overall fuel consumption, no range anxiety.
Against – gross exaggeration of fuel economy.
***** out of 5
I should have known better. The first time I drove the new Outlander PHEV – plug-in hybrid electric vehicle – I enthused about its amazing fuel consumption, following a Mitsubishi presentation and driving it for a few miles. After using the vehicle for a week and making measurements of my own, I discovered that if you venture on to the motorway, the company claims could be seen as outrageously over-the-top; in town you’ll have the reverse opinion. This is truly a two-faced vehicle, the Jekyll and Hyde of SUVs.
After driving the Outlander for a week and a total of just over 600 miles, some things became clear. If you drive on the motorway a lot, you’d be better off with a diesel. If you drive around town and on country roads, the plug-in hybrid system comes into its own, and depending on the length of your commute, you could realistically expect never to use any petrol again. So how do you measure fuel consumption when you don’t use any fuel?
The battery on its own will get you 32.5 miles before you have to use the petrol engine, and if you know when to engage the regenerative braking system, you can extend this. On one run, I managed to extend the battery to about 44 miles. You can do this by using the flappy paddles on the steering wheel which engage varying degrees of braking pressure which replenish the battery when you go downhill. It’s like driving with a manual gearbox in the traditional way when you change down to induce engine braking. There are five grades of different braking tension, and on the steepest hills you can keep the speed steady while boosting the battery. You pull on the left paddle consecutively to add degrees of braking tension, and disengage with the right hand one.
Forget where filling station is
On a long run with not many hills this option runs out. On a journey of just over 200 miles, mainly cruising on motorways at an indicated 80 mph and starting with a full battery, I managed 35 mpg. On the return journey with no battery at all, this fell to 33.2 mpg. But on a 100 mile rural and urban section, starting with a full battery, I squeezed out 59.8 mpg. Clearly if you had a round trip commute of say 40 miles with a few hills, you could realistically expect never to visit the petrol station again, so quite how you measure that I’m not sure, because the 148 mpg claim would than appear to be modest. Anyone buying an Outlander PHEV should persuade the dealer to supply a brief lesson on how to get the best out of the vehicle. I might have achieved better figures if I’d understood better the option buttons “save” and “charge”.
Mitsubishi is honest about the possible problems though.
“Unlike non-hybrid vehicles, it is hard to predict what MPG the vehicle will return in real life. A lot depends on journey length and speed – for instance, for the average daily commute of 25 miles most people will achieve much higher than 148 mpg. For longer journeys at higher speeds it may achieve less than 148 mpg,” Mitsubishi says.
You can say that again.
You can plug the car into your house or at the office and it takes about 5 hours to fully replenish using a 13 amp supply, 3-1/2 hours with 16 amps. A rapid charger, if you ever find one, will restore 80 per cent in 30 minutes.
As for the car itself, the interior was very smart, with crisp dials and high quality plastic. The main indicator shows when the car is using power, when it’s in economy mode, and when the battery is charging. There’s no rev counter. It had the dumbest, clunkiest sat-nav I’ve ever experienced which didn’t allow you to use the post code option. The binging and bonging of the lane-departure system was a nightmare. Head room in the back was surprisingly limited.
The Outlander PHEV is eligible for a £5,000 government grant, is London congestion charge exempt, and there’s no road tax. Company car drivers will find the financial proposition irresistible, with its five per cent benefit in kind first year rating. This will save thousands of pounds in the first year, says Mitsubishi.
It has five seats and four-wheel drive. You can switch on the air conditioning or heating first thing in the morning from the comfort of your home by using a mobile phone app. This will take place while the vehicle is still plugged in to the electricity supply, so you won’t be trashing vital battery range. You can get a free home charging kit from British Gas.
This is an SUV so you sit up high. Vision is good, while the batteries under the floor force the centre of gravity down. On the road the Outlander’s is adequate rather than scintillating. The suspension is a bit thumpy. When you drive with the battery only, the electric motors drive all four wheels. There’s no prop shaft so the petrol engine only drives the front wheels. Mitsubishi says the combination of electric motors and two litre petrol engine delivers performance like a 3 litre engine.
Prices start at £28,249 for the GX3h, including the government £5,000 grant. The GX4h costs £32,899, which includes the remote control smartphone app and electric heater system. The GX4hs which I drove costs £34,999. This top-of-the-range vehicle has adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation, and the pesky lane departure warning.
The plug-in hybrid system is a terrific advance on battery-only vehicles, which will inevitably induce chronic range anxiety, although the highway performance lets it down. Perhaps the best compromise is a diesel-electric PHEV, which will have a better economy performance cruising on motorways. I’ll be driving the VW Golf PHEV next week and reporting about how it works.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV GX4hs
Engine: 2.0 litre direct injection petrol
Power: 121 hp @ 4,500
190 Nm @ 4,500
Front electric motor 25 Kw 137 Nm
Rear electric motor 25 Kw 195 Nm
Battery lithium-ion 300 volts 12 Kw
Total power 198 hp
Acceleration: 0-62 mph-100 km/h – 11.0 seconds
Top Speed: 106 mph-170 km/h
claimed up to, or beyond 148 mpg
Wintonsworld roadtest: 43.7 mpg
CO2: 44 g/km
Length: 4,655 mm
Service Intervals: 12,500 miles-year (£500-3 years)
3 years unlimited petrol engine, 5 years 100,000 miles on EV components
Competition: Would I buy one? Yes
Price: £34,999 after £5,000 grant
For: impressive overall fuel consumption, no range anxiety
Against: gross exaggeration of fuel economy
I agree with you on most things you say about this car. Mine has just gone back, and I was very sorry to see it go. It certainly needs a lot of thought to work out just what the parameters should be, what it is actually doing, and how efficiently.
Don’t forget that Mitsubishi themselves say if you do journeys of more than 100 miles, the diesel Outlander is more appropriate for you and this is reflected in our road tests.
As you say, the worst case scenario is rushing along at 80-odd on petrol only. Driven in this way without ANY battery assistance it seems to put in about 33mpg which is incredibly good from a petrol engine pushing a very big and relatively heavy car along.
Regarding the cost of fuel, that is quite simple to measure using pence per mile, As far as I can calculate, battery power supplied from the ‘mains’ is about half the price of charging by the petrol engine. Thus, if you use ‘mains’ power only, this is one ridiculously economical car.
Two things which really surprised me about this car were;
1. how very nimble it is on lanes and unmade roads, very controlled and precise like an Evo – great!
2. the performance is surprisingly eager at speed when the medium power available from this petrol engine is supplemented by the electric motors to give outstanding high speed acceleration somewhat reminiscent of the RX450h.
I would say that Mitsubishi have been extremely shrewd in their understandings of customer needs and wants, and have played several aces in the design department.
You mention charging, this is indeed the achilles heel of such cars. If you are well away from home, it proves necessary to hunt round for slow-charge points and inevitably end up with cables dangling out of friends windows (or just run the battery flat) and of course if you are in a penthouse flat, forget it! My slow charger kept blowing the garage circuit-breaker so I went in search of a fast charger – in the Bournemouth conurbation only to be seen at Waitrose unlocked only with an RFID card on a monthly ‘subscription’ and a per-use charging payment – unacceptable.
My final point is that this car is a uniquely outstanding value proposition and for company car drivers the personal tax saving makes this car a ‘must-have’. Let’s hope Mitsubishi can build enough cars at a healthy unit profit to significantly boost their company bottom line. That is possibly my only criticism; how can they build such a good car at such a small price?