A FOND FAREWELL
The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has left the building. After four months and 7000km, we’ve thoroughly tested our red SUV. And it’s been a great test, too, involving a new understanding of the popularity of NZ’s number-one selling PHEV, appreciating the finer workings of its charging and battery system, using it as an excuse to fit a home EV charger, while seeing the announcement and introduction of a Clean Car Programme, equating to a rebate for this Outlander PHEV of $5750. In summary, we thought it was timely to present the good and not so good points from our extensive time with the Outlander PHEV. So let’s dive in. A dedicated smartphone app allows it to not just charge at specific times, and an ETA to full charge, but also heat or cool the cabin, which was loved on cold Waikato mornings. Though it does need to be close to the car as it uses the vehicle’s own Wi-Fi. Not so good: That climate control pre-conditioner will sap range, even if plugged in to the portable charger, unless recharging is scheduled. Good: Claiming around 55km, with our driving, the predicted EV range dropped to around 46km with our time and driving style — still more than enough for nearby daily duties. Good: Being a PHEV with a small battery, nightly charges from the domestic three-pin socket offer a full charge in six hours. Not so good: But when using multiple trips a day (typically weekends), the battery is drained and the overnight charger isn’t quick enough, somewhat necessitating a “wallbox” charger. Good: It was common to see 0l/100km shown on the fuel use display. Not so good: But the meter resets itself with every EV full charge, making it challenging to see the true distance from a tank of unleaded, which was often well over 1000km. Good: The ability to manually manage the battery though either Save or Charge modes, along with pure EV mode, offers real driver involvement and interaction. Though the car defaults to EV mode anyway, prioritising use of the battery first. Good: Being a PHEV, there’s range without the anxiety. Once the battery is flat (which is actually 25-30 per cent of the battery’s actual capacity to preserve its longevity), it reverts to petrol — which can either power the wheels or recharge the battery, at the expense of a slight fuel-use rise. Good (but odd): The power tailgate is great, activated via the keyfob or the dash button, but the button on the tailgate oddly needs to be activated by a dealer, a process which takes mere minutes. Not so good: The centre console is poorly designed, with just a double cup-holder, and nowhere practical/visible to place wallet, phone, keys, etc. Yes, there’s the console bin, but out of sight . . . Good (kind of): Default regenerative mode is mode three (from five), though I always found myself selecting maximum five via tapping the left shift paddle to keep the battery topping up as much as possible under brakes and downhill. Not so good: After four months, still not sure what the Sport button does. I’m sure it does something. Also, pure EV mode disables cruise control. So the answer is to simply leave it in default normal mode (which prioritises EV mode, anyway). Good and not so: Radar cruise control is awesome, until stationary, where it deactivates after two seconds and starts rolling — potentially into the car in front — and can’t reactivate until 10km/h. Not so good: One day, the battery just died! Tried everything to reset it but it ended up being towed away due to a fault of the battery system. It was fixed and back to us in 48 hours and covered under warranty. Good: Public EV charging offers specified parking areas, and they’re often vacant (for now). Always good for a grazing charge when out and about. Good: We took it to an RC car race event and charged the battery from the same power source used to recharge the RC cars. And arriving with a flat EV battery, it was fully charged by the end of the day’s racing. Good: Even though the 12kWh battery is one of the slowest to charge (at 3.7kW), even on a fast home charger, it still charges twice as fast than the portable wall socket charger. At public fast chargers, its maximum charge rate is 22kW; typically around 30-40 mins on a 40kW+ public charger. Good: When the battery is flat, the most efficient way to recharge while driving in petrol mode is on the motorway, where high revs yield almost 10kW, but settles around 5kW; generally it took around 150km to fully recharge a flat battery while driving (and around 5 per cent more fuel). Good: With the Clean Car Scheme rebate, our DRIVEN calculator shows the maximum PHEV rebate of $5750, lowering the price of the XLS PHEV to $46,240, and the price of our VRX PHEV to $53,240. Not so good: A flat tyre, typically on the final day, necessitated the use of the sealant in the boot, and the mandate of a maximum of 80km/h (sure, okay . . . ) for the motorway drive back to the dealer.