_MITSUBISHI _may have a lot of older models still kicking around on the market, but that doesn't apply to the Outlander. The current generation was introduced at the end of 2012 and Mitsubishi has now launched arguably the most important model of the mid-sized SUV yet.
The Outlander PHEV could shape as a landmark release for SUVs in this country. Hybrids and electric vehicles haven't exactly taken off here, even in smaller cars but Mitsubishi is confident it has something special with the Outlander PHEV.
Certainly in its favour is that it has sole occupation of the market: the Outlander PHEV is the first plug-in hybrid to make it to market in the world.
However, Mitsubishi was also the first company to bring a fully electric production car in to Australia - the i-MiEV light car - and that flopped.
But it says it's learnt from its mistakes. Firstly, the Outlander PHEV won't be breaking the bank for what it offers. The i-MiEV was a light city car with a price tag close to $50K. The Outlander PHEV tops out the range of mid-sized SUVs but starts at $47,490 - just $700 more than the top-spec diesel Outlander that used to headline the model.
A $52,490 Aspire is the higher-spec of the hybrid's two variants and adds extras such as heated front seats, sunroof, powered tailgate and more.
As the name suggests, the Outlander can be charged from a regular electricity supply. A full charge takes five hours, or 30 minutes with a fast charger. You can drive with a pair of battery-powered 60kW electric motors running the wheels for 52km - more than enough for most weekday commutes.
But range anxiety has also been considered, with a 2.0-litre petrol engine also present.
How petrol engines are used in hybrids can vary but the Outlander PHEV seems to allow its petrol engine to do a bit of everything. It can help out by charging the batteries or by driving the front wheels by itself.
With all of this considered, the PHEV has a phenomenal claimed fuel consumption of just 1.9L/100km.
How it goes on the road and performing SUV-like tasks will be interesting to see. With all the kit and technology, it has a gross vehicle mass of 2310kg - and that's a lot. Mitsubishi says it can tow 1500kg with trailer brakes but what makes it difficult to judge just what it will be like is how the drive train works.
The two electric motors' torque (one motor on the front axle driving the front tyres, the other at the rear) is available immediately, meaning a gearbox isn't really needed, while a "clutch pack" allows the petrol engine to put out as much power as is required to keep up with the car's road speed.
Mitsubishi also recently announced some minor changes to the rest of the Outlander line-up, with some prices rising slightly and models receiving various kit upgrades and design tweaks.
But considering the popularity of SUVs in Australia and how potentially cheap it could be to own, it's the PHEV that looms as the most interesting release from Mitsubishi in some time.
And if they've got this hybrid technology right, they'll have a good head start on its competitors.
- MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER PHEV *
- Base model: *$47,490
- Aspire: *$52,490
- Engine: *2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol with front and rear electric motors
- Outputs Petrol engine: *87kW/186Nm; Electric: 120kW/195Nm (combined)
- Transmission *N/A
- Thirst *1.9L/100km
- Battery-only range: *52km
The Outlander PHEV has a phenomenal claimed fuel consumption of just 1.9L/100km.