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Driven: Mitsubishi introduces updated Outlander PHEV

Battery of updates: The Outlander PHEV now wears the same exterior updates that were applied to the standard range in 2015.

New tech for Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV nets more electric range, better economy


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6 Apr 2017

MITSUBISHI says that while it is cognisant of the fact that its pioneering plug-in-hybrid SUV will not top the sales charts, it views the Outlander PHEV (Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle) as an amalgam of some of its finest work.

Speaking to journalists at the launch of the updated Outlander PHEV in Adelaide, Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited (MMAL) head of product planning James Tol said that the model – the world’s first plug-in hybrid SUV – was a big first step into the era of hybrid technology.

“We pioneered it,” he said. “That’s really the key to this product – it’s an SUV. We learned from i-MiEV and from Lancer Evolution, and our SUV know-how all converges into this PHEV SUV product.

“For us, it’s a no compromise vehicle. We're really focused on getting this technology into the mainstream. A functional and affordable SUV is our goal.

The total package that’s actually challenging the conventional view of electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles.”

MMAL CEO Mutsuhiro Oshikiri told GoAuto that that Outlander PHEV was never intended to be a sales leader, but a spearhead into the electric vehicle space.

“It is not a bread and butter car,” he said. “It is a very difficult car to sell without government support.

“But it is an important car, and we want to be known as industry leaders with PHEV technology.”

Mr Oshikiri also suggested the relationship with the Renault-Nissan Alliance will pay dividends going forward.

“Our partnership with Nissan, for example, will be important when it comes to this technology. Not right now, of course, but into the future.”

The Outlander PHEV reflects the exterior styling update applied to the mid-sized SUV range in April 2015, while inside, new multimedia systems have been added.

Running changes to the body-in-white, suspension tune and electric drive systems have also been applied.

Available in two grades, the Outlander PHEV has increased in price, up $3000 to $50,490 for the entry-level LS, and by the same amount to $55,490 for the top-spec Exceed. Both prices are before on-road costs.

On the outside, Mitsubishi’s corporate ‘dynamic shield’ grille and bumper bar has been adopted, along with LED headlights and LED daytime running lamps, while the rear bumper bar and silver faux diffuser plate are new, along with LED tail-lights with integral foglamps.

New 18-inch alloys complete the exterior makeover.

The interior has been worked over with new seat fabrics – leather-accented cloth for the LS and leather facings for the Exceed – added to more shapely front pews, while a new steering wheel, padded centre console bin and new dash finishes complete the makeover.

A new 7.0-inch multimedia system based on the company’s Smartphone Link Display touchscreen unit adds Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as digital radio, to both grades.

Electric folding and heated mirrors, an electronic park brake with auto hold function and a DC-capable fast charging socket have also been added to both grades.

Both have automatic lights and wipers, cruise control, steering wheel controls, climate control air-conditioning, keyless entry and twin USB ports in the glovebox.

Paddles behind the steering wheel offer manual control over the Outlander PHEV’s regenerative braking system, while buttons to either charge or conserve the battery are located on the centre console next to the joystick-style gear shifter.

The Exceed also gains adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, surround-camera monitor, automatic high beam, lane departure warning, blind spot monitor, lane change assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and Mitsubishi’s ultrasonic unintended-acceleration mitigation system.

These safety features are not available for the LS, but both grades are rated at a maximum of five stars from crash safety watchdog ANCAP.

A sunroof and powered tailgate also differentiates the Exceed from the LS.

The Outlander PHEV’s hybrid powertrain remains unchanged, with a pair of 60kW electric motors – one on each axle – combining with an 87kW 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and a single-speed transaxle gear system.

Mitsubishi claims a total power output of 120kW and 320Nm across all three power sources for the all-wheel-drive Outlander.

“The best way to understand PHEV is, for most practical instances, it's outputting 120kW through the two motors,” said Mr Tol. “As the speed creeps on the highway, then it will go above 120kW, but we don’t actually quote our power to get more than the combination of those two things, just by the simple way that all the powertrains combine together.”

New for the Outlander PHEV is the EV Priority switch on the centre console, which turns the PHEV into a pure electric vehicle until the battery is depleted or a high power demand is made.

Mitsubishi says it has an EV range of 54km, with the 12kWh battery array under the floor recharging from a household 10-amp socket in 6.5 hours.

It is supplemented by a 45-litre fuel tank. The claimed ADR fuel economy figure is 1.7 litres per 100km – down from 1.9L/100km in the outgoing version – with a CO2 output of 91 grams per kilometre.

The new DC (direct current) quick charge function adds the capability to recharge the battery from zero to 80 per cent in 25 minutes. However, it is estimated that there are only between 30 and 40 DC chargers Australia-wide at present.

Mechanical changes include a new front cross-member with a dynamic damper mounted between it and the body, bigger front dampers, different rear springs, more bracing for the body in white, two-piston front brake callipers and a larger brake booster, and stiffer electric motor mounts.

Thicker rear door glass, more sheets of sound damping material, changes to weather strips and underbody air dams have been added to decrease levels of noise, vibration and harshness.

Mitsubishi sold 1665 Outlander PHEVs in the two years after the car’s local launch in 2013, but moved just 45 units in 2016, as the local arm elected to stop importing examples until the quick charge DC plug was added in the latest update.

2017 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV pricing*
PHEV LS (a)$50,490
PHEV Exceed (a)$55,490
*Excludes on-road costs

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