Mitsubhishi Outlander PHEV long term road test review
LIFE as a motoring journalist means you get used to neighbours staring at whatever new car you're testing each week.
The stares increase if it's something red and Italian or anything chrome-soaked and truck like, but the neighbours are looking particularly perplexed at present as I silently reverse out of my driveway and down the street each morning.
Electricity you see, from a head-spinningly smart plug-in hybrid. Silent running and for at least a period of my daily commute, zero emissions and a rather nice 0.0L/100km showing on the dashboard.
We've been given a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV - the world's first plug-in hybrid SUV and claimed most efficient SUV on the market - for a four-month test, and a fortnight in it has both impressed and frustrated.
Frustrated because of the 15amp plug it came with, rendering it useless as all my plug sockets at home and at the office are 10amp, much like the vast majority of Australia.
Not the best of starts, but as it transpired, simple to overcome.
Instead, and on the advice of Mitsubishi Australia, I got hold of a portable 15A to 10A mains plug conversion unit, pictured right, that are typically used by caravanners. At under $80, this was a charge (pardon the pun) I was happier to stomach.
Before getting hold of the converter I principally ran the Mitsi PHEV on its 87kW 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol, with the battery taking a bit of a charge from the regenerative braking system. This meant there was enough juice for the PHEV to run at low speeds solely on its two 60kW electric motors. Hence the silent running.
What most people are asking about, quite understandably, is the fuel economy. Mitsubishi quote 1.9L/100km for the Outlander PHEV in its advertising - headline grabbing indeed - and without the ability to charge with a plug for the first week or so, I was averaging about 7.5L/100km. Not bad at all for an 1810kg SUV with 4x4 capability.
Now armed with the 15A converter, and with a full charge (which take five hours), my daytime 33km commute from home to work is done purely on electric.
Returning home at night, and with an almost full battery charge, the petrol engine had to kick in for the final few kilometres to help the rapidly draining 12kWh 300v battery. I was asking a lot of it though, cruising at 110kmh on the highway with lights, radio and air-con on.
Now with the ability to properly recharge the battery I'm hoping to understand the most efficient ways of driving the PHEV in differing conditions.
I'll do an end-of-month report outlining what I find, and I'm hoping to master the media system's eco menus and the Battlestar Galactica-esque Charge/Eco/Power readout that sits in place of a rev counter.
Much to learn, so I may need to settle down for an evening - stiff drink in hand - and plough through the hefty owner's manual to best understand this fascinating machine.
Model: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.
Details: Five-door four-wheel-drive plug-in hybrid SUV.
Engine: Two 60kW electric motors with combined maximum torque of 332Nm and one Lithium-ion 12kWh 300V battery. 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine generating maximum power of 87kW @ 4000rpm and peak torque of 186Nm @ 4500rpm.
Consumption: 1.9 litres/100km (combined average).
Charging: Five hours for full charge with 15A plug-in and 30 minutes for a fast charge.
Bottom line plus on-roads: Aspire $52,490.