Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Car Review
The Outlander is a big, capable 4×4. It’s also Britain’s bestselling electric vehicle – and Boris Johnson loves it
Toki Sekiguchi won’t forget the day he bumped into Boris Johnson in Tokyo. The 10-year-old was the unwitting stooge who failed to get out of the rampaging mayor’s way last autumn. Boris was in Japan to highlight its role as the host of the next Rugby World Cup, and also to launch Mitsubishi’s latest Outlander. You can watch clips of BoJo pulling the silken wraps from the car before forcing Lance Bradley, Mitsubishi’s UK MD, into the car for a test drive in downtown Tokyo. “Where are we going?” laughs a manic Boris. “I’ve no idea,” replies a terrified-looking Lance. Later, Boris says: “It’s a beautifully smooth machine. Totally silent. The only noise is a slight whine… like a self-satisfied cat.”
In many ways, Boris is the ideal ambassador for the car – they’re both stocky, robust and take an unorthodox view of the journey ahead. The boxy offroader (not Boris) comes in both diesel and electric versions, but it’s the latter which really sets the car apart from the herd. Its PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) capability means it’s a big 4×4 that returns a scarcely believable 148 miles to the gallon. Its combination of high-efficiency petrol engine and rechargeable electric battery means it also has ultra-low tailpipe emissions of just 42g CO2/km – that’s “mouse breath” in terms of fumes. And if you use the battery alone the car has a range of 32 miles, so if your commute is less than that your round trip could cost you little more than pennies a day.
Britain is slowly falling under the spell of these rechargeable cars. We buy about 40,000 a year, but just one model accounts for half of those sales – Mitsubishi’s Outlander. Which surprised me: think of an electric vehicle and the image of a flimsy little buggy still pops into mind – not a large, galumphing 4×4.
As Boris said, the car is incredibly smooth and silent on the road. It seems to ease itself over bumps and grooves like a great serpent. The power steering is finger light. Some describe this as “numb” or “vague”, but I like that feeling of gliding, magic-carpet style, above the road.
The diesel version has seven seats, but the PHEV loses two to make way for the electric motor. Plastics and finishings are plush and lustrous. But there are irritations: the petrol engine has the unsettling habit of randomly bursting into life at unexpected times, and the touchscreen system is fiddly and strangely miniaturised. But, these are incidentals: this is after all a game-changing 148mpg 4×4.