independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Outlander the new buzzword for top-notch electric SUVs

Going places: The new Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

MITSUBISHI has come out of the blue with an electric SUV for the masses that leaves other manufacturers in its wake. The new Outlander PHEV changes the electric car forever and will convert even the most cynical critics of hybrid technology.

This is a big, comfortable family car that can travel over 50km on battery power alone, which covers the daily commute for most motorists. But you want to go further? No worries. An on-board engine can extend the range to over 800km.

Nothing new in that, you may say. Opel Ampera has a range extender and so has the new BMW i3, but Mitsubishi has pushed the boundaries even further with not two, but three, driving modes using the two-litre engine to both charge and drive.

Mitsubishi says its plug-in (this is where the PHEV comes from – Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) technology combined with the unique driving aid of the combustion engine can give a range of 825km and in tests will return 1.9L/100km, about 124 mpg.

The 20-cell battery can be charged from a plug point to 80 per cent capacity in 40 minutes and it will also pick up charge on the move (braking and use of paddle) or by running the petrol engine when parked, so range anxiety is a thing of the past. Making your own electricity makes a lot of sense, Mitsubishi says.

Even though the electric motors have only one "gear", Mitsubishi uses paddle shift levers behind the steering wheel, which provides the effect of having five lower gears in a conventional gearbox.

Another piece of well thought out technology is the opportunity to switch to petrol power if you want to save the batteries for later in your journey. There is also a gauge to predict battery recharge time.

But this type of technology does not come cheap. The estimated price of the Outlander PHEV when it arrives here in May/June is €44,000 to €45,000, about 10 per cent more expensive than the diesel option. The C02 emissions are estimated at only 44g/km so road tax will be at the lowest point, €170 a year, excellent for a four-wheel-drive vehicle.

The style is a plain, bulky look with big bumpers and alloy wheels. The drive is, as one would expect, very quiet on electric mode. The beauty about electric power is that you get instant torque from the word go and there is a seamless change when petrol power cuts in.

The driving position is good, although suspensions are set lower than on the diesel or petrol versions of the Outlander.

Martin Brennan

Irish Independent

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