Mitsubishi continues its push to be at the leading edge of hybrid and electric vehicle design. Which hardly comes as a surprise as the Japanese company is one of the world’s biggest players in the electric items.
Our test vehicle for the past week has been a 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicle). It first arrived in Australia in 2014, but such is the breakneck rate of electronic technology that it recently received a range of revisions.
Obviously these concentrate on the powertrain, but there are changes to the platform and suspension, as well as styling changes inside and out.
The plugin Outlander PHEV for 2018 is almost futuristic thanks to a huge new front end and a mild tail tuck. In a throwback to the 1970s it has chromed and silvered highlights. Yep, futuristic and retro – Mitsubishi is having two-bob each way, and we have to admit we like what we see.
Inside, the latest Outlander PHEV has a redesigned steering wheel, revised design of accents in the trim and reshaped seats. Materials have a more upmarket feel and look.
The biggest news in the latest Outlander is that a DC fast-charge system can recharge the battery to 80 per cent capacity in around 25 minutes. Major changes to the drivetrain make Outlander significantly more efficient. Official fuel consumption is down by about 10 per cent, from 1.9 to 1.7 litres per hundred kilometres.
New Outlander has an EV Priority mode that lets you use it purely as an electric vehicle provided there is sufficient charge in the batteries.
As a last resort if you’re making long trips Mitsubishi Outlander can run on petrol for 500 to 600 km if you drive sensibly.
Outlander is offered in LS and Exceed grades. Both have smartphone Link Display audio with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto2 integration; and DAB+ radio. You need to use your own smartphone for satellite navigation.
Both models are well equipped, with the upmarket Outlander Exceed having such extra items as forward collision mitigation that can also detect pedestrians; 360-degree around monitor; lane departure warning; blindspot monitor and rear cross traffic alert.
Petrol consumption during our test period ranged from zero in the Brisbane city area where we ran it as a pure EV, to seven to eight litres per hundred kilometres on petrol once the battery was discharged. EV range was usually in the 35 to 45 kilometre range, so if you’re only doing short trips and can charge the Outlander overnight you can go for weeks, even months, without calling into a service station.
Ride quality and comfort have been improved, primarily thanks to changes to the platform to increase structural rigidity. There’s also extra sound deadening material and revisions to the suspension to reduce noise.
Comfort is good, with a very quiet interior on smooth roads. Rough surfaces noticeably increased sound levels, so the Outlander isn’t quite in the luxury sedan class. But keep in mind that this is an SUV that’s almost in the 4WD class.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV holds on well in bends, partly because of its lowish centre of gravity due to underfloor batteries. It’s no sports SUV like some of the Europeans in this class, though.
Mitsubishi Outlander may look like a typical SUV or 4WD but is actually a high tech glimpse into the future. Smooth, quiet and and easy to drive it’s well worth considering if you want something out of the ordinary.
STATEMENT FROM MITSUBISHI AUSTRALIA:
“In many markets there have been successful policies introduced to encourage EV sales. If Australia were to adopt some of these it would be a positive start but it will require a long-term focus across all levels of government to achieve a significant change in EV vehicle demand in this market.”
AT A GLANCE
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV LS 2.0-litre petrol/electric hybrid five-door wagon: $50,490 (automatic)
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Exceed 2.0-litre petrol/electric hybrid five-door wagon: $55,490 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Mitsubishi dealer for drive-away pricing.
SPECIFICATIONS (Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Exceed 2.0-litre petrol/electric hybrid five-door wagon)
Capacity: 1.998 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 87 kW @ 4500 rpm
Maximum Torque: 186 Nm @ 4500 rpm
Fuel Type: Premium unleaded
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 1.9 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 44 g/km
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4655 mm
Wheelbase: 2670 mm
Width: 1800 mm
Height: 1680 mm
Turning Circle: 11.0 metres
Kerb Mass: 1810 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: Not supplied
Front: Ventilated Disc
Rear: Solid Disc
Three years / 100,000 km