The average person in the UK lives about 10 miles from their workplace. Which is why It’s easy to see the appeal of a car that can travel that distance three times using precisely zero fuel.
I’ve tested the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV a number of times now and it’s hard not to be dazzled by its prowess as a commuter car. My own 32-mile round commute and empty social calendar last month meant that my most recent one-week test failed to dent the fuel guage at all.
But, of course, it’s not just a commuter car. The Outlander PHEV’s big benefit might be its 33-mile EV-only range, but as an SUV it’s also meant to be a practical, off-road capable family wagon for adventurous types.
Being the only plug-in SUV you could get in the UK used to be the Outlander PHEV’s killer feature, but three years on from my introduction to the car, there are far more direct competitors on the market.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Hybrid Auto 4WD
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol with two electric motors
Transmission: CVT auto
Top speed: 106mph
0-62mph: 11 seconds
CO2 emissions: 41g/km
There’s the Kia Nero PHEV, which has a longer EV range and is cheaper, but considerably smaller than the Outlander. There’s the Mini Countryman S E, which blends modern/retro MINI styling with a 26-mile EV range and at the premium end of the scale, the luxurious Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine which which comes with seven seats, unlike the Outlander – Mitsubishi only offering the diesel version with seven berths.
So in the context of a far tougher marketplace, was I as impressed with the Outlander PHEV this time as I was before?
Yes and no.
The Outlander received a facelift last year, and the new grille – all sharp angles – is an improvement on the previous front end and does a good job of bringing it up to date. The profile is still pretty much two big slabs – which is what I want from an SUV, but it does look like it was conceived in a different century from recent offerings from competitors – like the Toyota CH-R. If that’s what the marketplace wants, then I’m not sure others will agree with my tastes.
That simple shape is a big tick in the practicality box however, and the 463-litre boot swallowed various suitcases and a child’s bike with ease and no thought required as to whether a tasseled handlebar was going to burst through the rear windscreen when the power tailgate closed.
The Premium Nappa leather seats are an improvement on the old design, adding much-needed support and the 360-degree reversing camera takes a leaf out of the Volvo’s book, another significant improvement on the old set-up.
There’s no getting away from it though, despite admirable equipment levels, the interior dash is looking a bit tired and is a step behind all three of the aforementioned alternatives.
Now that the the Government plug-in car grant has changed, the Outlander PHEV is considered a ‘category 2’ car, meaning a government grant of £2,500 – as opposed to the £5,000 when the car was first launched. That’s hit the car in the value stakes too and, including the grant, our test car came in at £41,455.
You can get an Outlander PHEV brand new for £435 a month on Mitsubishi’s PCP finance scheme – from £299 a month second hand. If, like me, you normally spend £160 a month on fuel that begins to look like pretty good value when you factor in the fuel saving.
And depending on what you’re trading in, you could qualify for Mitsubishi’s £4,000 scrappage scheme saving – even better.
It’s no bad thing that there’s more competition in terms of plug-in SUVs, but while it’s not as cheap as the Kia, as stylish as the MINI, or as good as the Volvo, there’s still plenty to recommend about the Outlander PHEV.