Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 5hs 2.0 4WD Automatic: Elektrobank

Family cars need to be spacious, economical, practical, interesting and fun to drive, after all, you deserve to enjoy your car don’t you?

When MotorMartin was choosing a car upon which to undertake the annual family holiday to Anglesey, North Wales there was really only the one choice. With Mitsubishi introducing a number of improvements for this 2017 refresh a trip towards the winding and empty roads of Snowdonia and beyond was far too tempting an offer to miss. With the Outlander PHEV sitting on the driveway a day before departure it was time to start getting to know the Mitsubishi and see if it was made of the right stuff. To see if it was indeed the ‘real life’ motoring wonder that the brochure would have us believe. 

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has been tested before by MotorMartin and it was concluded that the 2016 edition was indeed an excellent proposition for those wanting the size of an SUV mixed with the quite unbelievable economy that the hybrid technology offered. The point of the following week was therefore to check out the improvements bestowed upon the PHEV and to see whether they made a great car even better. 

MotorMartin’s thoughts on the styling of the 2016 Outlander PHEV can be found by clicking here and don’t need repeating but I think it’s safe to say that the 5hs 2.0 4WD on test arrived looking particularly classy in the new for 2017 Metallic Granite Brown colour scheme which combined extremely well with it’s chrome grille, chrome bumper inserts, bonnet badge, large rear spoiler and Porcelain Cream premium Nappa leather seat trim within. There’s certainly no doubt that this is a very good looking vehicle. Indeed, it could be argued that the 2017 PHEV now has the looks to put itself up against SUVs from the class above, ones that cost considerably more to buy and run than the potential savings that the Mitsubishi offers the consumer.

What’s interesting to note this year is the different emphasis evident in the Mitsubishi’s PHEV’s sales brochure, what’s been included are a number of succinct thoughts from the most important person in the whole car buying process, the customer, backed up by a variety of magazines and reviewers. For MotorMartin this more than confirms Mitsubishi’s clever thinking behind their popular SUV and the reason for MotorMartin choosing the Outlander for this rather extended test and mileage as this is a car that has been designed from the outset with the consumer in mind. A car that has been produced to service the very real need of the modern family, a family that is not willing to put up with compromising their aspirations in respect to the products on offer. 

Take this customer for example: “The icing on the cake for me is the very welcome £400 per month company car/fuel benefit tax saving against my previous BMW 520d. Order one soon – they are going to be in very short supply.” KS, owner.

Or this one: “Detail changes on the outside help make what was already a thoroughly modern-looking SUV appear sleeker still, but it’s the interior that will have prospective owners jumping for joy.” Car magazine.

And what about: “It should go without saying that the fundamental issue with plug-in hybrids is that they only make sense if you plug them in regularly. If I owned an Outlander PHEV I’d easily ace the official 148mpg* figure because I very rarely do more than 20 miles a day… I could get through a week without using a drop of petrol if I charged it up each night.” Alun Taylor writing for The Register.

The interior gets it’s own comments such as: “Major fascia revisions to make the whole cabin ‘more European’ work very well. The whole thing feels simpler, classier, airier and more modern… fixtures and fitting have a pleasant durability about them.” What Car?

Mitsubishi’s designers and engineers have clearly looked at what could be improved with this 2017 edition over the 2016 with respect to the driving and owning experience rather than just completing an exercise in corporate one-upmanship. The clearest evidence of change is to be found in the cabin itself with the rather old fashioned handbrake replaced with a far more modern looking and feeling electronic parking brake, a feature that really raises the quality of the interior and improves the driving experience no end including, as it does, an Auto Hold function which makes stop/start driving in heavy traffic easier, as you avoid the need to keep your foot on the brake pedal while stationary. For such a small change (in physical rather than engineering terms) the benefits of this additional technology absolutely reinforce the premium feel of the PHEV for the driver, allowing making driving a far more relaxed affair. 

The second visual clue that this is the 2017 Outlander is that it now sports an EV Priority Switch which, Mitsubishi says, allows you to manually select all-electric driving, so the petrol engine will only start automatically if the battery’s charge drops to an excessively low level or very high power output demands are made, a touch that increase economy and with it, customer satisfaction. After all, there’s something quite addictive about trying to extend the quite incredible potential mileage gains that EV power offers when driving around town, commuting or completing journeys of around 30 miles in between time spent plugged in.

Adaptive Cruise Control has also been added this year on both 4hs and 5hs models which Mitsubishi explain is a safety measure which also makes your life much easier, Adaptive Cruise Control uses radar installed in the front grille to judge distances between itself and the vehicle in front, and automatically adjusts the vehicle’s speed* to maintain the designated distance. When there is no vehicle in front it acts just like a conventional cruise control system and, in MotorMartin’s opinion, is a further example of Mitsubishi spending time deciding what is best for the driver and their use of the PHEV out on the road during ‘real life’ motoring and implementing improvements. 

What it means for the driver was perfectly exemplified on the journeys from Bradford to Anglesey, a distance of around 165 miles taking in a variety of roads and conditions along the way, and the reverse one week later. On the motorway, especially one as crowded as the M62 with it’s seemingly endless (and pointless) series of 50mph zones, the adaptive cruise control really comes into it’s own, proving invaluable as the Outlander effortlessly varies it’s speed in deference to the driving in front allowing for a far more relaxing drive and one that allows you to arrive at your destination still feeling refreshed and ready to continue the day.

And that’s not all as once on the far smaller and quieter roads throughout the beautiful Island of Anglesey, the Mitsubishi proves itself no slouch when the going moves towards the more sporting side of one’s nature. Whether in Electric mode or petrol or a combination of the two, the Outlander is sensational through the bends with little body roll and excellent grip, due no doubt to the clever electronics under the skin.

The Outlander’s S-AWC, Super All Wheel Control, is an integrated system which, Mitsubishi state, delivers incredible traction, solid stability and intuitive linear handling. It does this by combining Active Yaw Control with the twin motor 4WD, Anti-lock Braking System and Active Stability Control (which maintains control by automatically adjusting the engine output and braking forces at each wheel). And not only, the Outlander also offers 4WD LOCK where Utilising the 4WD button simulates the locking of a centre differential, equally distributing torque to all four wheels for improved traction and stability on slippery surfaces. The thing is, it all works so well that you don’t really know how hard the systems are all working, so good a job they do at providing a driving experience that is just so controlled and easy.

You really have got the best of both worlds with the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 5hs. The Outlander being a superb companion amongst the unique landscape of North Wales, it’s raised driving position allowing for excellent all round visibility and the spacious cabin providing more than enough room for front and rear passengers, a load capacity of 16.3 cu.ft. allows for a weeks luggage for four to be easily stowed away and the rather superb hybrid electric/petrol engine combines to provide more than enough power to allow Countries to be traversed with ease. 

The best bit? 

Short journeys below 30 miles and a fast charging point provided by Mitsubishi and installed at home will allow a potential mpg figure of up to 166 MPG and CO2 emissions at 41G/KM and that figure can increase with careful route planning. Even taking in a longer journey like the one to Anglesey and back will not significantly reduce mpg if judicious use of charging points can be sorted once away.

Well done Mitsubishi, same time again next year please.

Where will you go?

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