BEFORE considering the merits of the latest version of Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV - the most technically advanced SUV ever produced by the company – it is worth considering its extraordinary success story.

First launched in the UK in 2014, it made an astonishing entrance. The previous year fewer than 1,000 plug-in hybrids were sold in the UK but by the end of 2014 Mitsubishi had sold more than 10,000 Outlander PHEVs.

Mitsubishi had tapped into an appetite for greener vehicles that could handle the rough stuff. By November of the following year the Outlander PHEV had amassed 50,000 sales across Europe and by January 2018 it passed the 100,000 milestone.

Today it remains the best-selling plug-in vehicle – hybrid or electric – in the UK, but Mitsubishi has no intention of resting on its laurels.

The Outlander PHEV now features a raft of exterior changes, including new LED headlamps, bumper and rear spoiler, along with a new 18-inch alloy wheel design.

More importantly, there’s a new 2.4-litre Atkinson cycle petrol engine, increased battery drive capacity and greater output from the electric motor to 95PS.

It also comes with an all-wheel control system, snow and sport drive modes and bigger brakes.

What is also immediately noticeable is the re-calibrated suspension and revised front and rear shock absorbers to improve the ride quality.

With the heaps of technology on board you might get the impression that driving the Outlander PHEV is a complicated affair. Not a bit of it.

With the battery carrying charge, the car will by default drive in electric-only mode. All you have to do is nudge the automatic gear selector and off you go.

As the charge diminishes – you will get about 28 miles in electric mode before the battery runs out of juice – you can choose to save charge or re-charge the battery from the engine at the flick of a switch.

The official combined fuel economy figure of 139mpg is a mystery to me. In theory, you could run on electric power alone if you are making a daily commute of 20 miles.

I took in journeys ranging from 20 to 200 miles, utilising the save and re-charge facility, and achieved a figure of 102mpg at one time and 42mpg when I decided to conserve battery power.

In addition to using the engine to charge the battery, you can plug the car into a domestic socket. It takes about five hours to achieve a full charge. For a quicker charge time, use a home or public charging device (about 3.5 hours) or a rapid charger (about 25 minutes).

It’s a smooth and powerful ride in the Outlander PHEV, made more enjoyable by new noise-reducing dampers and improved engine refinement.

Key to its success is the lack of any compromise. For those looking to buy an SUV, it offers the same space, practicality and elevated driving position.

The battery pack doesn’t devour boot space or compromise the dynamics – it is integrated into the floor, keeping the centre of gravity low and retaining a large boot and fold-flat rear seats.

There’s also an electric motor for each axle, which means that even in EV mode, the car remains a true 4x4 at all times.

Ideally suited for short drives in stop-start urban traffic, the Outlander PHEV’s ace card is the seamless integration of the punchy petrol engine, which eliminates range anxiety and rules out the need for a second vehicle for longer drives.

And perhaps that is the key to this extraordinary success story. You can be environmentally friendly, save on fuel, meet the challenges of inclement weather and poor surfaces and carry four passengers, plus luggage, in comfort.

The larger capacity of the engine means it produces more power - up from 121PS to 135 - and more torque across a wider rev range. The 0-62mph acceleration benchmark is dispatched in 10.5 seconds, half a second faster than before.

The Outlander PHEV is available in five trims levels..


Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 4h Petrol Hybrid Auto 4WD

Price: from £39,500 (range from £36,700)

Engine: 2.4-litre petrol producing 135PS

Transmission: Automatic

Performance: 0 to 62mph in 10.5 seconds

Economy: 139mpg combined

Charging time: 5 hours (3-pin plug)

CO2 emissions: 40g/k


Performance: ****

Economy: *****

Ride/Handling: ****

Space/Practicality: *****

Equipment: ****

Security/Safety: ****

Value For Money: ****