Adelaide hosted the launch of the updated Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV earlier this year, to provide a glimpse of the improvements since the original release three years ago.
Externally the PHEV design now mirrors the stylistic changes of the MY17 Outlander range released late last year, but the update is more than just styling, featuring plenty of technology, convenience and increasing practicality, along with a more refined driving experience.
The PHEV, available in two variants the LS and the Exceed, hosts a range of new features including smartphone connectivity for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, LED headlamps with auto levelling, an electronically controlled park brake with auto-hold function, as well as a DC fast-charging socket. Both also boast a raft of safety features. Of particular mention is the inclusion of adaptive cruise control and forward-collision mitigation.
As a rookie to EV technology I was keen to drive the PHEV in EV Priority Mode, which on activation allows the operation of the vehicle without the petrol engine. With a fully charged battery this mode could allow you to drive to a maximum of 54km. New in this model is the ability to charge the battery pack with a DC charger that is capable of charging the battery to 80% in about 25 minutes. You can also charge from a standard 10 amp power point, although this will take up to 6.5 hours to fully charge. DC chargers aren't all that common at the moment but availability and accessibility will increase with demand. In all but higher-speed operation, the 2.0L petrol engine is operating as a generator, charging the battery (series hybrid) and not directly driving the transmission/wheels like a typical hybrid vehicle. It's only at higher operating speeds, where the petrol engine is at its most efficient, that it provides a direct drive to the wheels.
Mitsubishi added the twist of an eco-challenge for the launch drive program that saw us head out of the CBD and onto the open road with the occasional off-road section. The drive gave us the opportunity to experience both the electric and series hybrid mode.
Apart from the silent departure from the parking station, the ride through the city (with the combination of series hybrid and EV driving modes) was in the most part smooth and it wasn't easily discernible when the engine was and wasn't running. It was the hillier nature of the countryside where I noticed that the engine speed didn't always reflect how far I had the pedal pressed to the floor. This was a little disconcerting and a new driving experience for me that would take a bit of getting used to.
To give you some idea of the fuel economy available, we started the drive with a total combined range of 568km and after 70.1km we had 525km left. The official combined cycle fuel economy has been reduced to 1.7L/100km in this update.
With a taste for exploring what is possible both economically and environmentally with the PHEV driving experience, I look forward to delving deeper into the day-to-day impact of "owning" an Outlander PHEV in the coming months.
The Outlander PHEV LS spec is available for $50,490 with the Exceed priced at $55,490 (plus on-road costs).
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