It's a mud-plugging Mitsubishi SUV, but also a potential green posterboy. This Outlander is a soft and cuddly plug-in hybrid, with a claimed fuel economy figure of 148mpg and CO2 emissions of just 44g/km
6/16/14 11:44 am chumakdenis 2
When we first reported on the launch of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, it was described by the Japanese company as being the first production plug-in hybrid electric SUV in the world.But we don't believe in such statements and let spell everything out.
Price: from $47,490
Engine: Dual 60kW electric motors, 87kW 2.0-litre petrol engone
Transmission: Single fixed ratio for all three motors
The Outlander plug-in hybrid looks nearly identical to the gas-fired version. We dig, if only because the three-row crossover’s sharp, techy exterior styling is reasonably modern-looking, if a bit anonymous. Mitsubishi designed the crossover’s platform to accommodate plug-in-hybrid gear from the git-go, so none of the hybrid gear intrudes into the interior.
Thus plug-in buyers will enjoy the same space as they would in the conventional Outlander.
Outside, the only giveaways that the plug-in is special are a unique grille, a monochrome paint job, LED taillights, and 18-inch wheels. The regular rig features 2.0-liter gas and 2.2-liter diesel engines (in Europe, at least); the plug-in mates a 2.0-liter, gas-slurping four with two 81-hp electric motors and a 70-kW generator.
One electric motor lives up front with the gas engine and generator, and the other takes up residence at the rear axle and powers the rear wheels. Interestingly, the rear electric motor produces 43 additional lb-ft of torque than does the front unit, for a total of 144.
The Outlander plug-in can operate in three drive modes that are engaged automatically: pure EV, series hybrid, and parallel hybrid. In pure EV mode, the front and rear electric motors are fed directly by a 12-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Electric-only operation is said to be feasible for up to 34 miles at a maximum speed of 75 mph, and topping off the battery takes just four hours using a 240-volt outlet. Series hybrid operation is possible, in which the gas engine powers only the generator to feed the battery. Otherwise, the Outlander’s gas engine and electric motors work in tandem in parallel hybrid mode; in this case, the gas engine powers only the front wheels via a gear-reduction setup.
Mitsubishi claims its hybrid system is good for 143 mpg (measured on Japan’s JC08 test) and a 547-mile driving range. To further help energy regeneration, Mitsubishi allows Outlander plug-in drivers to manually select a battery charge mode that fires the engine to feed the cells electricity. Speaking of the batteries, they’re located entirely between the front and rear wheels. The location of the juice box results in a relatively neutral 55/45-percent front-to-rear weight distribution and a lower center of gravity.
It's possible to cover 30 kilometres on battery power alone and like all of its type found the Mitsubishi Outlander electric to be eerily quiet, smooth and full of strong torque
Also, we would like to reveal one really useful advice for you. Sometimes the battery indicator can show about half full or less, but you can manually told the vehicle to start the four-cylinder petrol to not only provide drive, but also charge the battery. It will give you a chance to have enough charge in the battery, so you could do all our off-road sections on electric power alone.
Fuel economy and CO2 emissions
This Outlander is a soft and cuddly plug-in hybrid, with a claimed fuel economy figure of 148mpg and CO2 emissions of just 44g/km.
Engineers could achieve such awesome result, thanks to the combination of electric motors and 2.0-litre petrol engine. And your average will be even higher if you're mainly making short, all-electric trips.
How does it work?
The Outlander PHEV is a plug-in series parallel hybrid, a phrase that might require breaking down.
The Mitsu can be hooked up into the mains electricity supply, charging it for a ‘electric-only' range of 32.5 miles.
The petrol engine and electric motors work together, with either source providing motive power directly to the wheels, or be de-clutched and used to charge the batteries back up. The car decides which task has priority at any given point depending on how it's been driven. Think Toyota Prius, but with more emphasis on running on electric, and you'll be about there.
Does diesel get better mileage?
To a certain extent, yes. For short journeys, starting with a full charge, you can achieve some extraordinary ‘economy' figures. Despite driving normally, with air con on, we never dipped below 60mpg.
And because it has two electric motors, one on either axle, it's still a four-wheel drive SUV easily capable of towing little Ginny and the nag to the local gymkhana.
But as a car to know and love, the Outlander isn't so great. The batteries have added 200kg to the kerbweight, so it doesn't ride as well as the diesel version.
And the 2.0-litre petrol is disappointing. It doesn't add the expected boost in power when it kicks in, and it's a wheezy lump that rasps asthmatically as soon as you push it. Compared to the smooth electric mode, the Outlander's combustion engine feels very old-school.
What all this means is that you can set off from home in the morning in full electric mode, and drive about 30 miles on EV only. Then, when the batteries are depleted, the petrol will kick in and get you the rest of the way, at the same time as charging the batteries back up. EV range anxiety solved.
Priced from $47,490 the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is on sale now at most, but not all, Australian Mitsubishi dealers. Outlander PHEV is only the first of many of its type to come out of Japan. Mitsubishi is one of the world leaders in electric vehicles, it has already launched the pure-electric i-MiEV in Australia.
Later we will see other passenger cars and SUVs. Prototype SUVs are are already underway: smaller vehicles, the size of the Mitsubishi ASX with a three-cylinder petrol engine and electric drive; and Pajero type 4WDs with turbo-diesel and electric power. Others will follow, stay tuned.
* 2.0L DOHC MIVEC engine
* 5 seats
* HEV & PHEV engine – motor
* Front fog lamps
* Dusk sensing headlights
* Rain sensing wipers
* 7 SRS Airbags
* Price - $47,490
OUTLANDER PHEV ASPIRE
* Chrome exterior door handles
* Leather seats with front seat heaters
* Power tailgate
* Power sunroof
* Forward Collision Mitigation (FCM)
* Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC)
* EV Remote System
* Price - $52,490
Should I buy one?
It depends. If you don't do huge miles, and like doing your bit for the planet but don't want to compromise on range or practicality, the hybrid Outlander makes sense.
Especially when you factor in the cost. Including government subsidy in some states and countries, the hybrid will cost you exactly the same as the diesel Outlander. In other words, there's no price penalty for being green.
And company car drivers should definitely take a look. Because of the low tax bands, company car users will save a fortune over three years .
The Outlander hybrid theory, then, is great. The execution? Not quite. Yet.