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First Drive: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 4H

The story:
Improved for the 2019 model year, Mitsubishi’s popular Outlander PHEV boasts a range of subtle but welcome exterior cosmetic revisions, equipment updates, tweaks to the driving experience and a switch to a larger petrol engine and improved performance in a bid to keep potential rivals at bay.
Category:4x4
Key rival:BMW X3
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 4H
Price:£37,000 inc grant
MPG:139mpg
Emissions: 46g/km
On sale:Now

Since its launch, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has benefited considerably from the popularity of plug-in hybrids. In addition, keen pricing, a useful EV-only range, modest charge times and the versatility of an SUV bodystyle have all combined to earn it market dominance.

Since it’s original 2014 launch Mitsubishi has sold almost 40,000 units in the UK. This ‘zero to hero’ status was largely indicative of there being little initial competition, although this situation has changed considerably with the introduction of similar vehicles from the likes of BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo. What has set the Outlander PHEV apart from its rivals is its price; it is incredibly competitively positioned and, crucially for many users, is a popular SUV as opposed to a traditional estate or saloon bodystyle.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV - 2018 - Image 12

The latest revisions deliver cabin and kit upgrades, a larger 2.4-litre petrol engine and subtle upgrades to the driving experience. It remains a solid performer on the road, although the inclusion of a ‘Sport’ mode highlights that the Outlander is still more at home wafting along than charging into corners. Still, enthusiastic driving highlights the car’s composure at speed even if its engine is a little too vocal.

Taking a relaxed approach ensures that you benefit from the car’s much-publicised efficiency gains. Being WLTP compliant, the Outlander delivers 28 miles of electric-only motoring plus 139mpg and emits 46g/km of CO2. On paper, the real-world WLTP test has cancelled out the increases in engine and battery capacity – the latter is up 15 percent to 13.8kWh – but on the road the Outlander feels brisk.

Furthermore, the transition to and from engine assistance is seamless, and the user-adjustable regenerative braking allows smooth retardation and the ability to help top up the battery on the move.

Ease of ownership has been a key attraction for the many thousands of owners to date and this theme continues with this latest iteration; it’s a plug-in hybrid, which means a modest four-hour wait for a full charge.

Cabin space is good for a car of this size and the SUV format is more practical than your average mid-size estate if you’re seeking to use the Outlander both as a business conveyance and as a family wagon.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV - 2018 - Image 10

Generous kit levels run to a mobile app to remotely control basic functions, heated windscreen, Apple and Android phone compatibility, touchscreen-based infotainment, cruise control and dual zone climate control. Of note is Mitsubishi’s decision to offer a ‘vanilla’ infotainment system without a built-in navigation solution. Instead, you utilise your own iPhone or Android device, which is commendably pragmatic as it negates having to learn a new system or spend extra to add such a feature.

Expected to be the best-seller, the mid-range 4h model adds leather, a 360-degree camera plus blind spot alerts. Adaptive cruise, premium audio, adaptive LED headlights and heated rear seats feature on the two higher-spec cars.

Entry-level pricing is keen at £34,255, including the £2500 grant, for the Juro specification, further enhancing the car’s relative value-for-money credentials.

IAN DOOLEY

The verdict

The combination of powertrain upgrades, aesthetic revisions and kit enhancements have further enhanced Mitsubishi’s already best-selling Outlander PHEV. The car’s real-world flexibility should continue to ensure its broad appeal.