AFTER a short hiatus from Australian showrooms, a fresher-looking Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has returned, and looking a little classier on the outside and more tech-laden within.
Apart from the fancy new nose, the plug-in hybrid Outlander looks the same as before. However, under the skin there are some significant improvements to how it saves petrol and burns electricity that make it more than just a battery-powered alternative to a petrol or diesel engine.
Here are nine things you probably didn’t know about the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.
- The Outlander PHEV is made in Mitsubishi’s SUV plant in Okazaki, Japan, on a special, separate line that travels along the floor, and not overhead like with conventional cars. It is mainly built using robots.
- The battery the Outlander PHEV uses to power the two electric motors – one for the front wheels, and another for the rear ones – is hidden under the boot floor. That means there’s no room for a spare tyre; instead you have to use a tyre repair kit.
- The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV now has four driving modes. In Normal mode, the SUV makes up its own mind up over the right mix of petrol engine and electric motor to use. In Charge mode, the petrol engine will run constantly to top up the battery. In Save mode, the Outlander PHEV will keep the battery at a constant level of charge. And in EV mode, it creeps along almost silently on battery power alone.
- Notice how we said “almost silently”? Mitsubishi has built what it calls an audible alarm system – we’d call it an electronic whisper – to alert pedestrians that it is nearby. The whisper makes a noise from 3km/h until the SUV is travelling at about 36km/h, and when slowing down it kicks in from about 33km/h.
- In a second act of kindness to pedestrians, the Outlander PHEV has added them to the SUV’s city-friendly auto-braking function. If someone should unexpectedly step out in front of the plug-in hybrid, it will automatically jump on the brakes to avoid a crash.
- The Outlander PHEV has a smartphone app that can let you play with some of the functions in the car such as the air-conditioning, and even check the level of charge in the battery.
- Mitsubishi is looking at how it can add a bullbar to the Outlander PHEV – an add-on buyers are asking for. Whatever it comes up with, it can’t interfere with bumper-mounted sensors for the automatic emergency braking function or airbags. Watch this space.
- It can’t tow as much as a conventional car. The Outlander PHEV is only rated at 1500kg for a braked trailer. Petrol models can pull 1600kg and diesel ones 2000kg.
- Mitsubishi’s longstanding ambassador in China is kung fu legend Jackie Chan.