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The Top Gear car review:Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
For:It’s extremely economical on short journeys, four-wheel drive, practical
Against:Overly firm ride, petrol engine is very sluggish an unrefined
2.0 PHEV GX3h 5dr Auto
In theory, the answer to all our SUV problems. In practice, not quite the silver bullet we were hoping for.
Can the five-seat, 148mpg hybrid SUV live up to its astonishing economy figures? TG finds out
If you don’t get excited by driving, a perfectly acceptable way to ferry kids and clobber around. Lacks something more, though.
It’s an honest, handsome vehicle, the Outlander, one that does nothing brilliantly but has no vices either. As a package, it works, assuming you’...
What we say:
In theory, Mitsubishi has stolen a march on the oppo here. In practice, it's not quite so impressive
What is it?
Dirty great SUVs might have had a poor eco reputation in the past, but Mitsubishi is hoping to alter that with the Outlander PHEV. As its name suggests, the Japanese SUV is now available with a hi-tech plug-in hybrid system, making it the world’s greenest off-roader.
The plug-in system is split into two parts – a 2.0-litre petrol engine with 119bhp, plus twin electric motors (one on each axle) pushing out a total of 60bhp and 245lb ft. Either system can also be declutched and used to re-charge the batteries. It’s possible to run the Outlander on electric-only for up to 32.5 miles – again, a theoretical figure – and when the batteries are depleted, the petrol kicks in. Think of it like the Toyota Prius, only with more emphasis on electric-only driving and better mpg and CO2 figures (yes, really), and you’re about there.
Unfortunately, this is the Outlander’s weakest part. First, the good news. Under electric power, the Outlander is quick and quiet. The petrol engine doesn’t kick in too early (unlike on the Prius), and there’s plenty of poke on offer. But once the petrol engine comes on-line, the Outlander feels very dated. It’s far too coarse, and doesn’t provide much boost to the pace. Plus, because the PHEV is 200kg heavier than the normal car, it’s not only comparatively slow, it doesn’t ride as well, either. In fact, it’s really quite uncomfortable.
On the inside
It’s much more normal inside – five seats (no seven seat option on the PHEV because of where the batteries are under the boot floor), gearbox, radio, windows… you know the deal. What this means is that are no compromises with the Outlander PHEV. Combined with the four-wheel drive system, you’ll still be able to get little Ginny and all her pals along to the gymkhana with no drama. The only things that are different are the dials, because there’s no rev counter – just a dial to tell you whether you’re charging the batteries or not.
Here’s where the Outlander really outscores petrol and diesel rivals, because if you’ve got a short commute, you’ll never need to fill up on fuel. Plus, because the emissions are so low, company car drivers can save a fortune in tax. And we mean a fortune – thousands of pounds over three years. Plus, if you include the government green car subsidy, the Outlander PHEV is exactly the same price as the diesel one. Finally, if you do need to visit distant relatives beyond the range of the batteries, you should still hit about 40mpg, which isn’t bad for a family SUV. It’s here that the Outlander PHEV’s a bit of a game-changer. If only it had a bit more driving appeal…