JAPANESE car manufacturer Mitsubishi has hit the jackpot in the UK with their Outlander PHEV hybrid 4x4 SUV for because of its impressive fuel range and ultra low CO2 emissions it has become a star car with one in every two models sold by the company being the plug-in Outlander writes Bryan Longworth.
The Outlander PHEV (this stands for plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) has become so popular because of features like its 541 mile hybrid range, 32 mile zero emissions range using battery power alone and the 42 g/km CO2 emissions which means there is no road tax or congestion charges and company car drivers have a 7% Benefit in Kind tax which is the equivalent of a pay rise of several thousands of pounds a year plus the Government's £2,500 plug-in car grant.
Outlander PHEV has a petrol engine driving the front wheels along with front and rear electric motors and it can be driven in all electric mode using the batteries which can be charged either by the petrol engine or by a cable plugged into the domestic electricity supply that means owners must have a drive or garage for access to a power point as this would not be possible with on street parking unless you could connect to a public charging point.
When my test car arrived there were 25 miles of electric power available and the car moved off in electric mode very quietly which seemed rather spooky and once I had exhausted the battery power range the petrol engine kicked in and I switched to the mode for it to recharge the battery system while it also propelled the car and braking also helped to regenerate the batteries.
Outlander PHEV is not for owners who drive on motorways most of the time where power would largely come from the petrol engine as the diesel version would be better for them but it is ideal for owners for example who have a short commute to work so they can travel petrol free and with careful use of charging the battery pack with the plug-in cable it is possible to run the car entirely on very cheap electric power - the average daily commute is less than the electric mode range.
My test car was the Outlander PHEV GX5h costing £40,899 which had automatic transmission and the 2.0-litre four cylinder petrol engine which along with the two electric motors had a combined output of 200bhp with a top speed of 106mph a zero to 62mph time of 11 seconds and those very low CO2 emissions of 42g/km.
Fuel consumption is a bit complicated. Mitsubishi say the "official" fuel consumption figure is 156mpg but this is like the combined mpg system and real life figures are lower but I was told of one owner who manages 100mpg and at one time I noted the computer indicated I was averaging well over 80mpg although the average for many owners is likely to be nearer 50 to 60 mpg which is still good for a big SUV.
The car was extremely well equipped with the five seater spacious interior having very comfortable heated leather seating frot and rear and a high level of standard equipment which included a premium pan European satellite navigation system, DAB radio, electric sunroof, a comprehensive instrument and power display and a 5m charging cable for topping up the batteries at home or work plus steering wheel paddles to increase regenerative braking.
On the road this Outlander provides a very satisfying drive with well weighted steering and splendid handling and the high driving position provides the driver with a commanding all round view.
Latest styling changes have given Outlander a considerable presence especially up front where there is a hint of Range Rover and it attracted quite a lot of admiring looks in its metallic black paintwork although this would not be my colour if I was buying an Outlander as I think it would look better with something like silver or gold paint.
Outlander PHEV embraces the best of both all electric and hybrid worlds because it can be driven in all electric mode for round 30 miles without the range anxiety fear associated with all electric cars for when the batteries are low the petrol engine provides propulsion and also recharges them.
With its low emissions and very impressive fuel consumption potential it is not surprising why this Mitsubishi four wheel drive SUV has become such a big seller because it has become the right car at just the right time for this market sector.
Model: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV GX5h.
Power: 2.0-litre petrol engine and two electric motors. Joint output: 200bhp.
Top speed: 106mph.
Acceleration: 0 to 62mph 11 seconds.
Fuel consumption: 0fficial 156mpg.
CO2 emissions: 42g/km.
Price: £40,899 (including Government plug-in car grant).