Attempts to find the perfect way to power cars have taken us from traditional petrol and diesel, through to electric cars and hydrogen fuel cells.
All of these solutions come with their compromises, though. I think plug-in hybrid could be the answer, and over the next six months I’ll be finding out if the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is the ideal solution for commutes and longer trips.
Firstly, I needed to pick up the eco-off-roader from Hummingbird Motors in Finchley, north London, and receive a crash course in the basic instructions to get me going. Dealer principal Larry Wood has been involved with Mitsubishis since the seventies, and was on hand to give me a quick tour around the car.
The Outlander is powered by a combination of a 2.0-litre engine and two electric motors. Fully charged, it’ll go for 32 miles on battery power alone. Once these run out, the petrol engine is used as a generator to continue powering the motors, rather than the wheels.
That means it has power leads for charging, along with the usual fuel tank. With no off-street parking at home, I’m hoping that charging up in our office car park will allow me to make it home and back the next morning in EV mode – it’s only an 18-mile round trip, after all.
What also makes the Outlander unique is its size. This isn’t a small, lightweight crossover – it’s a full-blown off-roader that can be switched to four-wheel-drive mode if necessary.
That’s not the only clever tech on offer, however. There are numerous settings on the sat-nav screen that help tell me just how efficiently I’m driving and how far I’m travelling in pure electric mode.
Another key element is that, unlike some hybrid models, the batteries don’t eat into boot capacity, which stands at 436 litres. I’m hoping the space will be comfortable for my dog Jarvis, plus provide plenty of room for trips to the tip.
I’ve since done only a few commutes from our central London offices to my flat in north London, but the Outlander has already impressed, with the exception of the firm ride. I particularly like the way it glides along in near-silence, helping to soothe the stresses of my drive. On this evidence, Mitsubishi has got closer than most to delivering the ideal powerplant for our times.
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