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Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV sales buck downturn trend

Mitsubishi bucks trend as plug-in car sales nosedive

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV sales buck downturn trend

In spite of reports from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) that plug-in sales are down 50 percent compared with June 2018, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV remains popular with buyers.

Mitsubishi says the plug-in Outlander PHEV sold equally well last month as in June last year. It puts this unexpected resilience down to awareness of the car. Indeed, for many buyers, the Outlander is the default PHEV.

Why are PHEV sales down?

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV sales buck downturn trend

PHEV sales are down mainly due to the government’s cancellation of purchase incentives for plug-in hybrid vehicles. Marques like Mitsubishi have been very vocal in criticising this decision.

“Instead of growing, the market share of plug-in vehicles is now shrinking, which makes it difficult to understand how this can be considered progress,” said Rob Lindley, MD of Mitsubishi UK.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV sales buck downturn trend

“We are calling on the government to work with the industry to put together a package of incentives to encourage the adoption of all progressive technologies and outline how this plan would move drivers to a pure EV future over the course of the next decade, for example.

“Recent sales figures prove, however, that while customers want to do the right thing and buy a more environmentally friendly vehicle, they need incentives, both financial and social, along with assurances that their investment will retain its value down the line – both of which could be provided with a clear governmental timetable and framework.”

‘The UK isn’t ready for all-electric’

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV sales buck downturn trend

Mitsubishi’s assertion is that the UK is not ready to dive headlong into full EV adoption. It’s critical of the existing and foreseeable charging infrastructure’s ability to cope with demand. Especially if buyers adopt electric cars to the extent the government wants.

‘The charging infrastructure is not fit for widespread EV adoption and is struggling to cope with the relatively tiny number of EVs currently on the road. PHEVs, however, reduce the demand on charging infrastructure in the short-to-medium term,’ says Mitsubishi.

Mitsubishi drivers do charge their PHEVs

Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in sales buck downturn trend

It’s a valid argument. However, it’s been claimed that most PHEV drivers don’t charge at home, relying mostly on petrol power instead. 

Mitsubishi disagrees, saying its independent research has found 90 percent of customers charge their vehicles regularly (two or three times a week).

It also found that 68 percent of Mitsubishi PHEV customers charge once every day. In addition, those people do half their weekly mileage in EV mode.

Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in sales buck downturn trendThe statement for the marque continues: ‘With transport CO2 emissions on the rise as consumers move away from diesels, PHEVs again offer an immediate alleviation to the problem without requiring any additional infrastructure or huge shifts in user habits.’

Great cars that are cheaper than the 2019 Mitsubishi Mirage

Mitsubishi Mirage 2019The Mitsubishi Mirage: a car to file under ‘cars you didn’t think were still available to buy new.’

Well, it is, and according to Mitsubishi, the 2019 Mirage is offered at a “competitive price point right in the heart of the small car segment”. But is it? 

You can buy a Mitsubishi Mirage 3 for £11,295 – which is £1,000 less than the outgoing Mirage Juro. But that’s hardly cheap for a small car dating back to 2012, albeit with a ‘facelift’ in 2016. The Mirage 4 costs £13,355 with a manual gearbox or £14,020 with a torpid-o-matic CVT.

And while it’s true that 11 grand isn’t a huge amount of cash for a new car – especially when the Ford Fiesta range starts from £14,000 – things begin to fall apart when you discover what else you can buy for that kind of money.

Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want

Dacia Sandero

The most obvious alternative is the Dacia Sandero, with its headline-grabbing £6,995 price tag. Even in Comfort trim, the Sandero costs just £8,795 – not bad for a car that’s longer, wider and taller than the Mirage, has a larger boot, and a far superior infotainment system.

Dacia’s new Essential trim for the Sandero really shows up the poor value of the Mitsubishi, though. As its name suggests, it includes ‘essential’ items such as air con, DAB radio, electric front windows, body-colour bumpers and 15-inch wheel trims… yet costs just £7,795. That’s £800 more than the base Sandero… and £3,500 less than the cheapest Mirage. 

But what if you don’t need something as large as the Sandero? The Skoda Citigo – widely considered to be one of the best city cars on the market – costs upwards of £9,235 as a five-door, with even the well-equipped SE L boasting the more powerful 75PS 1.0 engine coming in just £155 more than the Mirage.

Alternatively, opt for the bonkers but brilliant Monte Carlo edition, which weighs in at £11,535 in three-door guise or £11,885 as a more-door. It will remind you that you do have a pulse. You can thank us later.

The Citigo might be smaller than the Mirage, but with a 251-litre boot, it offers 16 litres more luggage capacity than the Mitsubishi. 

Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now

2019 Mitsubishi Mirage interior

You could also look at the Ford Ka+, which (coincidentally?) is priced from £11,295, is of a similar size, and is pitched at a similar audience. In terms of a feel-good factor, the Ka+ is leagues ahead of the Mirage, even if it doesn’t have the character and charm of the original Ka.

That’s three realistic alternatives without even trying. 

Anyone interested in the Mirage will almost certainly find something to like about the Suzuki Celerio. Even the well-equipped SZ3 model costs a penny under £10,500, while the SZ2 is priced at just £8,999. Madness.

Right now, the entry-level Suzuki Ignis SZ3 is available for £10,499, while the mid-spec SZ-T could rival the Mirage with a little haggling. Heck, even the much-better-than-you-would-believe Baleno is on offer at £11,499.

An entry-level Hyundai i10 costs £9,195, the MG3 Explore costs £9,495, while a basic Kia Picanto looms into view at £9,720.

The list goes on: Dacia Logan MCV (£8,495), Toyota Aygo (£9,295), Peugeot 108 (£9,504) and Citroen C1 (£9,635) and Dacia Duster Access (£9,995).

This Charmless Man

2019 Mitsubishi Mirage

We’re not saying that the Mitsubishi Mirage doesn’t have its positives. Up to 55.4mpg WLTP fuel economy from its 1.2-litre petrol engine is perfectly adequate and the five-year/62,500-mile warranty is reassuring.

The specification of the Mirage 4 also ticks most of the boxes: sat-nav, DAB, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, climate control, cruise control, heated front seats, bi-xenon headlights, rear parking sensors and 15-inch alloy wheels is a tidy package.

And it’s fair to say that, in the case of the Aygo, 108 and C1, you’d have to spend considerably more to get your hands on such niceties. 

We’ll also concede that many Mirage owners would be prepared to live with the car’s lacklustre dynamics and coma-inducing driving experience. But surely it’s impossible to gloss over the charmless styling?

It’s true that there’s no such thing as a bad new car in 2019. But not all cheap cars are created equal.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV best selling plug-in

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV remains Britain’s favourite plug-in

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV best selling plug-in

Four years on from its launch in 2014, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV remains as popular as ever, with 476 registrations in April contributing to overall year to date sales of 2,695 units.

It sees the Outlander PHEV cementing its position as the UK’s most popular plug-in electrified vehicle, with more than 36,800 currently on the road. It helps that the Outlander PHEV has no direct rivals, with plug-in SUVs from the likes of Volvo, Porsche and BMW costing considerably more.

In fact, at £32,305 after the Plug-in Car Grant (PiCG), the Outlander is more closely aligned to the Audi A3 e-tron, Volkswagen Passat GTE and Toyota Prius Plug-in, which are less practical than Mitsubishi’s SUV. That said, you will pay £43,555 for the most expensive 5hs model with leather seats.

Rob Lindley, managing director of Mitsubishi Motors in the UK, said: “Despite ever more competition entering the market, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV continues to win more and more customers over thanks to its no-compromise, SUV versatility and low real-world running costs.

“With more excellent new SUV models joining the range, such as the Eclipse Cross and Shogun Sport, we have ambitions to grow the Mitsubishi brand even further in 2018 and beyond.”

Up to 33 miles of electric range

The Outlander PHEV pairs a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with two 60kW electric motors to deliver CO2 emissions of just 41g/km and a theoritical 166mpg, but in reality this is more likely to be 40mpg in everyday use.

However, once charged, the Outlander can deliver up to 33 miles of pure electric driving, which makes it appealing to those who combine a short daily commute with the need to drive longer distances at weekends.

In most other respects, the Outlander is beginning to show its age, and lags behind more modern SUVs when it comes to dynamics and quality. But for now, the petrol-electric powertrain will ensure that this plug-in hybrid SUV remains at the top of the segment sales chart.

You can now buy a new Mitsubishi online

You can now buy a new Mitsubishi online

You can now buy a new Mitsubishi online

Mitsubishi is the latest car manufacturer offering customers the option to buy a new car entirely via its website.

Developed in conjunction with Rockar – the same firm which provides online car buying software to Jaguar, Land Rover and Hyundai – all current Mitsubishi models are available via the website.

Customers are able to search for cars by budget – whether that’s buying outright, PCP or HP. They can also get a quote for their part exchange.

Test drives can be booked via their website at a nearby dealership, while customers can choose to ‘leave’ the online process and complete the deal at a dealer at any point. Although it’s not possible to haggle online, Mitsubishi says customers will be given the same offers as those available at dealerships.

The website gives the customer a clear indication of how long the car will take to arrive, with home delivery available in certain areas. Alternatively, the car can be picked up at a Mitsubishi dealer.

“Consumers are increasingly looking to the internet to complete all kinds of purchases and while the vast majority of car buyers enjoy the experience of a traditional showroom environment, there is a marked growth in those that desire the convenience of an internet transaction when considering their new car,” said Mitsubishi Motors in the UK’s managing director, Lance Bradley.

“Mitsubishi Buy Online provides a highly flexible, comprehensive solution that will enhance our retail operation and provide customers with even greater choice and transparency.”

A recent survey by automotive expert Cap Gemini reveals that as much as 75 percent of car buyers would consider completing the process online.

>NEXT: Buy a new Hyundai online in 5 minutes with ‘Click to Buy’ service

Mitsubishi launches scrappage scheme: save up to £6,500 off an Outlander PHEV

Mitsubishi launches scrappage scheme: £6,500 off an Outlander PHEV

Mitsubishi launches scrappage scheme: save up to £6,500 off an Outlander PHEV

Mitsubishi is the latest manufacturer to launch a scrappage scheme, offering £6,500 off a new Outlander PHEV when you trade in your old car.

That’s made up of the government’s £2,500 plug-in car grant on top of a £4,000 contribution from Mitsubishi, taking the price of the cheapest Outlander PHEV Kotu down to £27,805.

Other models also qualify for smaller discounts under the Mitsubishi scrappage scheme. The Mitsubishi Mirage city car is eligible for a £2,000 scrappage discount, while the ASX crossover comes with £3,000 off. The Outlander diesel, meanwhile, is available with a £3,500 saving.

To qualify for Mitsubishi’s scrappage scheme, you need to trade in any make and model of car with Euro 1 to 4 emission standards registered before the end of 2009. It needs to have been registered in your name for at least six months, and Mitsubishi has confirmed that all cars traded in through the scheme will be destroyed.

“As we have demonstrated with the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, we are committed to helping drivers enjoy more environmentally-friendly motoring without asking them to compromise day-to-day practicality and we’re delighted to offer a scrappage initiative that provides an enhanced opportunity for even more customers to enjoy the benefits of a newer, safer, cleaner vehicle,” said Mitsubishi Motors UK’s managing director, Lance Bradley.

The scrappage scheme is applicable to eligible Mitsubishi models registered before the end of December 2017. Mitsubishi isn’t the first to offer a scrappage scheme: similar offers are available from a number of other manufacturers, including Ford, Kia and Volkswagen.


What is a scrappage scheme?

A scrappage scheme is a way to encourage motorists to part exchange their old, polluting vehicle for a new, eco-friendly model. The UK government ran an official scrappage scheme from April 2009 to to March 2010. Anyone trading their old car (10 years or older and with their name on the V5 for 12 months or more) would be given a guaranteed £2,000 towards a new model (£1,000 from the government and £1,000 from the manufacturer of the new car).

The scheme proved controversial amongst environmental groups and classic car enthusiasts, as it dictated all cars traded in through the scheme must be scrapped – even if they were in road-legal condition. In total, more than 390,000 vehicles were scrapped as part of the scheme.

Although the government hasn’t announced any plans to bring back an official scrappage scheme, a number of car manufacturers are introducing similar schemes as concerns around air pollution continue to rise.


Could this Qashqai-sized SUV save Mitsubishi's fortunes?

Could this Qashqai-sized SUV save Mitsubishi’s fortunes?

Could this Qashqai-sized SUV save Mitsubishi's fortunes?

Mitsubishi has teased a new SUV ahead of its reveal at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show – and hinted that it could be a ‘turning point’ for the brand in the UK.

The Qashqai-sized crossover is rumoured to be named the Eclipse and will sit between the ASX and the Outlander in the company’s range.

The Japanese carmaker saw UK registrations plummet in 2016 – down nearly 20% to 18,237 sales last year. In recent years it’s been relying on sales of its popular Outlander PHEV crossover, which has been hit by reduced government incentives for plug-in hybrid cars.

Mitsubishi teased the new crossover in concept form as the XR-PHEV II at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show.

At the time, Mitsubishi UK’s managing director Lance Bradley told Motoring Research it had potential to double the manufacturer’s sales figures in the UK.

He explained that, in 2015, Mitsubishi UK was expecting to sell 10,000 Outlander PHEVs. As the C-segment crossover sector is three times larger than the D-segment SUV, the firm could potentially sell 30,000 Qashqai-rivals a year.

“I’m not saying that’s going to happen,” Bradley told Motoring Research. “We’re going to be conservative in our numbers. But when I went to Japan, Aikawa [former president and chief operating officer of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation] ambitiously suggested that it might be possible.”

The new crossover will use a shortened version of the Outlander’s platform and will feature a more stylish, coupe roofline.

Although a plug-in hybrid version would appear to make sense following the success of the Outlander PHEV, reduced incentives and high costs mean the firm might stick to more conventional powertrains for the Eclipse.

A new 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine is expected to be popular, while a 2.2-litre turbodiesel will also be offered. The SUV will be available with two- and four-wheel-drive powertrains.

Could this Qashqai-sized SUV save Mitsubishi's fortunes?

Could this Qashqai-sized SUV save Mitsubishi's fortunes?

Could this Qashqai-sized SUV save Mitsubishi's fortunes?

Mitsubishi has teased a new SUV ahead of its reveal at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show – and hinted that it could be a ‘turning point’ for the brand in the UK.

The Qashqai-sized crossover is rumoured to be named the Eclipse and will sit between the ASX and the Outlander in the company’s range.

The Japanese carmaker saw UK registrations plummet in 2016 – down nearly 20% to 18,237 sales last year. In recent years it’s been relying on sales of its popular Outlander PHEV crossover, which has been hit by reduced government incentives for plug-in hybrid cars.

Mitsubishi teased the new crossover in concept form as the XR-PHEV II at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show.

At the time, Mitsubishi UK’s managing director Lance Bradley told Motoring Research it had potential to double the manufacturer’s sales figures in the UK.

He explained that, in 2015, Mitsubishi UK was expecting to sell 10,000 Outlander PHEVs. As the C-segment crossover sector is three times larger than the D-segment SUV, the firm could potentially sell 30,000 Qashqai-rivals a year.

“I’m not saying that’s going to happen,” Bradley told Motoring Research. “We’re going to be conservative in our numbers. But when I went to Japan, Aikawa [former president and chief operating officer of Mitsubishi Motors Corporation] ambitiously suggested that it might be possible.”

The new crossover will use a shortened version of the Outlander’s platform and will feature a more stylish, coupe roofline.

Although a plug-in hybrid version would appear to make sense following the success of the Outlander PHEV, reduced incentives and high costs mean the firm might stick to more conventional powertrains for the Eclipse.

A new 1.5-litre turbocharged petrol engine is expected to be popular, while a 2.2-litre turbodiesel will also be offered. The SUV will be available with two- and four-wheel-drive powertrains.

Month five: is the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV a good family car?

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (2016): long-term review

Mitsubishi Outlander (2016) long-term review

This could be one of the most controversial vehicles amongst eco-car enthusiasts since a Bluemotion-badged diesel Volkswagen. It’s the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV: a 2.0-litre petrol SUV with an electric motor and an official MPG of 156.9. Yes, that’s 156.9mpg.

2016 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV review: UK first drive

It works by running on electric (for an official range of 32 miles) after a full charge, with the petrol engine kicking in when the battery’s flat or you’re asking more from it than the electric motor can provide.

So why’s it controversial? For a start, many owners are saying that fuel economy figure is little more than fantasy. Mitsubishi has retaliated, by saying the figure comes from the official NEDC tests – not the manufacturer. Essentially, as most of the tests are done while the Outlander’s battery is charged, it uses very little fuel.

For the same reasons, it’s classed as having extremely low emissions (42g/km). That means it works as a bit of a tax dodge for company car drivers, who pay very low (7%) BIK tax, but will spend most of their time running it as a thirsty petrol SUV without ever charging it.

If you’re reading this thinking our introduction is throwing up more questions than it’s answering – that’s exactly why we’ve added one to our long-term test fleet. Just how good is it on fuel consumption in real life? How easy it to charge? Is it better than a diesel? Read on to find out…


Month six: it’s a cracking goodbye to the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Month six: it’s a cracking goodbye to the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

My final weekend with the Outlander. The last couple of days with a car that, even after six months, I still hadn’t really bonded with.

A road trip was in order – so a Friday afternoon dart up the M1, onto the M6 and across the M54 to visit my folks in Shropshire. A stop off at Corley Services saw me parking alongside rows of dirty diesels – stumping up £6 to charge at Ecotricity’s charge points makes no financial sense in the Outlander. Clearly I’m not alone in my thinking – a Nissan Leaf was parked nearby, away from the chargers, which remained unused during the couple of hours I spent trying out Starbucks’ delicacies.

Despite not being able to charge at Corley, a 40.0mpg average during the gentle motorway run was adequate, and I do appreciate the comfortable, leather seats and high-up driving position the Outlander offers.

A weekend ferrying my parents around and they had nothing but good things to say about the Outlander – not only was it comfortable, it also looks good on their driveway (an important consideration, apparently) and moves away in silence. How modern.

Unfortunately, the end of the weekend – and the end of my tenure of the Outlander – didn’t go to plan. A passing Audi on a rural road flicked up a stone, causing a chip in the windscreen. Within moments this had turned into a large crack. Great.

This cracking goodbye aside, what are my final thoughts on life with the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV after six months? Well, it has sort of convinced me of the merits of plug-in hybrids. I like the fact that my 20-mile commute could, in theory, be completed under electric power alone. And I enjoy the feeling of driving the Mitsubishi Outlander when it’s fully-charged – running a diesel feels like a backward step once you’re used to creeping around town in silence.

Anyone who does regular longer journeys will be better off with a diesel, however – but then, we already knew that. Plug-in hybrids make little sense if you don’t charge them regularly – and now Ecotricity has introduced its £6 charge, you’re even less likely to do that if you’re a business user.

The plug-in element aside, the Mitsubishi Outlander isn’t a bad car. The interior isn’t anything special – but it’s better than it used to be – and the infotainment system is pretty woeful to use.

There is no enjoyment to be had in driving the Outlander, either (perhaps Mitsubishi could learn from cars such as the Passat GTE – hybrids can be fun), but it does the job of being a practical mode of transport with a minimum of fuss.

Would I recommend one? Maybe. If practicality is high on your agenda, perhaps for whatever reason owning a four-wheel-drive would be handy, and you can charge it regularly, the Outlander PHEV will be worth a visit to your nearest Mitsubishi dealer.

If, however, you’re a business user wanting to cash in on the Outlander’s green credentials (and the benefits they bring), you might want to take a look at the changes about to be brought in by Phillip Hammond. You’d probably be better off with a diesel – especially if you’re paying for your own fuel.


Month five: is the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV a good family car?

Month five: is the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV a good family car?

I’m rather conscious so far that my updates so far have concentrated largely on the EV side of the PHEV – and most buyers will treat it simply as an alternative to a diesel SUV, and actually charging the thing will be a tiny part of ownership.

So how does it stack up as a family car? For a start, you can’t get an Outlander PHEV with seven seats. You can get a diesel version with an extra two seats squeezed into the back – but the battery on the hybrid version eats into the space where these seats would be. So if you’ve got a big family, it probably isn’t going to work for you.

If you’ve only got a couple of kids, don’t dismiss the PHEV just yet. Although the battery does hamper boot space to a certain extent, it doesn’t eat into it massively. With the rear seats up, you get 463-litres of luggage room – 128 less than a five-seat diesel version.

That’s still a sensible amount of luggage capacity, however. The Mazda CX-5, as a comparison, has a 503 litre boot, while the Hyundai Santa Fe has 585 litres. More, but it shouldn’t be a deal breaker.

The rear seats split 60:40 and fold down flat, while the Outlander’s huge boot opening allows easy access.

Head and legroom in the rear is good, while the leather seats (standard on our GX5h long-termer) not only look good, but are easy to clean – an important considerations for families with young children. Isofix mounts on the front and outer-rear seats means it’s easy enough to fit child seats, and children will probably enjoy the high-up seating position compared to an estate car.

Combine this practicality with a five-star NCAP safety rating and a four-wheel-drive system for when the weather gets bad, and the Outlander PHEV makes a lot of sense as a family car.


Month four: how does the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV compare to the Volkswagen Passat GTE?

Month Four: how does the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV compare to the Volkswagen Passat GTE?

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has been a mightily-popular plug-in hybrid, with 11,786 sold in the UK last year. Before it came along in 2013, plug-in cars were traditionally a bit weird, and only bought by early-adopters. The Outlander offers a degree of normality – along with a high level of practicality – that means conventional diesel drivers can be tempted by the Outlander’s supposedly low running costs.

But now other manufacturers are starting to cotton-on. Mitsubishi UK’s sales – a huge proportion of which are the Outlander – are down to 12,097 so far this year, compared to 15,414 at the same time last year. Along with drivers realising that plug-in hybrids aren’t always that economical (unless you regularly charge at home and only occasionally travel further than 20 miles), some of this could be down to the increase in rivals being launched by mainstream manufacturers.

Volkswagen Passat GTE (2016) review: Two-Minute Road Test

I’ve just spent a week with a Volkswagen Passat GTE. Not an obvious rival per se, especially in saloon form, but starting at £38,075 for the estate, you’d be wise to consider one alongside our high-spec £43,339 Outlander PHEV GX5h.

The crucial stats for company car drivers are very close: 42g/km CO2 for the Outlander, compared to 39g/km for the Passat. That results in 7% BIK tax for business users, and free road tax for both of them.

First impressions of the Passat, from someone who’s spent months driving an Outlander? The interior is wonderful – truly upmarket, boasting almost Audi levels of build quality. Despite being tweaked by Mitsubishi over the years, the Outlander’s interior leaves you feeling a little short-changed. It’s certainly not premium, but it does feel like it will stand up to day-to-day abuse from families fairly well.

The infotainment system is one area in which the Passat has clearly benefited from the VW Group’s expertise. It’s lovely to use, really quick to respond and even the standard 6.5-inch display is easy to read.

Like the rest of its interior, the Mitsubishi’s infotainment system is still behind the times, despite being improved when the car was facelifted last year. It takes an age to start up, is laggy to use and features are hard to find. Connecting your phone can be a challenge, too.

This should get easier when the 2017 model arrives with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – unveiled at the Paris Motor Show. The Passat GTE is already available with this as a £125 option. A smidgen tight when you can get it as standard on a new Vauxhall Corsa.

And then there’s the common denominator: the plug-in hybrid system that explains why we’re pitching these two unlikely competitors against each other in the first place. Both offer fairly short electric-only ranges (the Passat 31 miles, the Outlander 32), and neither should take the place of a diesel if you do a lot of long journeys.

The Passat uses its system to offer that additional element, the fun GTE mode, and when the battery does run out of juice the petrol engine kicks in almost seamlessly. The Outlander makes a bit more of a fuss, grumbling into life and making its presence heard. And then there’s that CVT gearbox.

The Outlander’s CVT ’box sounds strained if you’re trying to accelerate with the slightest degree of urgency (compared to the Passat’s lovely six-speed DSG), while the light steering isn’t confidence-inspiring. No, it’s not meant to be a sports car, but the Passat GTE proves parents can have fun, too. Hitting 62mph in 7.4 seconds, it’s the fastest Passat currently offered by VW.

On the plus side, the Outlander’s high-up driving position offers an excellent view of the road that you don’t get in the Passat. It makes the Outlander feel like an airy, safe car for long trips – important for families, and great for quelling child sickness. And, of course, its four-wheel-drive system will help over the winter months or when tackling a particularly challenging campsite.

The verdict? After a week with the Passat, I was reluctant to hand it back and take back the keys to the Outlander. Not only is the Passat more enjoyable to drive, the interior is leagues ahead and the technology behind the hybrid system seems more advanced.

That’s my personal conclusion. Of course, the Outlander offers more space, and families will appreciate the high-up driving position it offers as an SUV. They’re not direct competitors and they will appeal to different buyers – but I know where my money would go.

Read our Two-Minute Road Test of the Volkswagen Passat GTE


Month three: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV meets the Airlander ‘flying bum’

Month three: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV meets the Airlander 'flying bum'

You may have seen the Airlander ‘flying bum’ in the news this week. It’s the largest aircraft in the world – a hybrid airship that’s more than 90m long and cost £25 million to make.

Designed to be used in long-endurance surveillance for the US government before the project was axed and it was sold to the UK, the Airlander uses helium to get airborne and sounds much quieter than a conventional helicopter or plane.

It’s stored at Cardington Airfield, around 15 miles from home for me. That’s within the electric-only range of a fully-charged Outlander PHEV – so it’d have been rude not to take our long-term Outlander to meet its bigger, flying cousin.

A tenuous link, perhaps. But, just like the near-silent Airlander can sneak up on enemies in silence (while also being good for the planet), I’m really starting to appreciate the quietness of the Outlander PHEV when it’s freshly charged.

My neighbours like the fact I can get away early, and arrive home at night, without the clatteryness of a diesel engine waking them up. The one evening I swapped the Outlander for a Porsche Cayman GT4, they picked up on how noisy it was in comparison.

Month three: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV meets the Airlander 'flying bum'

The Outlander’s quietness isn’t always a good thing. One day, I was taking the country road route home, driving the PHEV gently and trying to maximise its electric range. There was a pigeon in the road – I didn’t want to brake (that’d have a knock-on effect on my hypermiling), and presumed it’d fly away last minute.

It didn’t. It was the slowest road kill ever. At around 30mph, I felt the poor pigeon get squished by the Outlander’s 18-inch wheel. It just didn’t hear me coming.

Fortunately for wildlife, the Outlander soon runs out of charge. Yes, I’ve already gone over the benefits of the Outlander’s hybrid system, and I get that it’ll work for those of us who regularly do short journeys. But I still find myself wishing I could travel before before the petrol engine noisily kicks in.


Month two: what’s the etiquette around charging?

Month two: what’s the etiquette around charging?

I wasn’t planning on writing my second update about the same subject as the first one. But charging is such a new thing for someone who’s so used to just filling a car with fossil fuels, there’s a lot to learn.

And I don’t mean the intricacies of what cards I need to charge where. I’ve got all that sussed now, and I’m really getting into the hang of plugging it in regularly. No, I mean the etiquette.

I use a charge point near our office regularly and, since MR’s Peter Burgess complained to the council that it was being blocked by non-electric cars, it’s now clearly signposted as a three-hour maximum parking space for charging only. That’s fine for me, I can charge almost entirely in three hours.

But, as I mentioned in my last update, one e-NV200 van driver seems to park there regularly and leave it charging for an entire day while he no doubt catches a train into London from the nearby station. I’ve even seen the van blocking the space without charging – what’s the point? To save having to pay for parking, perhaps, but then I noticed he had a ticket on the windscreen.

Conscious of people who unnecessarily block charging bays for those who need them, I’ve returned to the Outlander a few times to find a fully electric car parked next to it, clearly wanting to use my socket. Most charge points have two – a fast charge and a slow charge. Naturally, if it’s free, most prefer to use the fast charge.

But if someone in a Nissan LEAF, for example, needs a charge, their need is a little more important than mine. While I’ve got a (thirsty) petrol engine as backup, they need that charge to get home. I tweeted my dilemma, and the internet didn’t hold back…

A smidgen harsh, perhaps – what’s the point of driving a plug-in hybrid if it’s never plugged in?

Other people came up with suggestions…

And many said I shouldn’t feel guilty.

But I do. So I’ve come up with a solution.

Will it work? Find out in our next long-term update.


Month one: how easy is it to charge the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV?

Month one: how easy is it to charge the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV?

As an introduction to plug-in cars, the Outlander PHEV is proving to be a real eye-opener.

For a start, the UK’s public charging network is a bit of a shambles. Rather than being operated by one company, a number of different firms provide chargers in different places. So, the majority of chargers in the area where I do most of my driving are operated by Source East. To access those, I need a Source East card at a cost of £10 a year. For the use I’d get, that’s a bargain – so I was keen to sign up.

Only Source East’s website is useless. It’s several weeks since I tried to join without any luck, and it still doesn’t appear to be working. Their customer service department isn’t responding to pleas for help, either.

Chargemaster came forward with a solution. For £7.85 a month (after a six month free-of-charge trial period), you can use their Polar Plus network, which gets you access to 4,000 charge points across the UK (including those operated by Source East). More expensive, but it takes some of the hassle away of trying to find appropriate cards if I decide to travel further afield.

So, with my Polar Plus card in hand, I headed to the one-and-only charge point located near our office. Chargemaster’s useful Polar Plus map not only helps you locate charging points, it also tells you what kind of charger they have, as well as whether they’re in use at that moment in time.

According to the map, our nearest charger wasn’t occupied. But, despite signs saying the spaces are reserved for electric vehicles only, it was blocked by non-plug-in cars. How annoying.

With an early start, I’ve found it is possible to park at the charging point near our office and give the Outlander a full charge (which takes roughly three hours… conveniently the maximum time you’re allowed to park in this space).

But it’s not always possible. There’s one regular Nissan e-NV200 who often parks in the space and blocks it all day, ignoring the three-hour limit.

When it is possible, it works out well. With a real-life range of around 25 miles, I can commute almost entirely on electric power and rely on the combustion engine on those occasions I need to travel further.

Month one: how easy is it to charge the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV?

One such occasion was a recent round-trip to Heathrow. The only public charge points at Heathrow are located at short-term parking, limited to three hours. If you leave your car there for more than three hours, you get hit with a ticket. And what use is that, unless you’re only visiting Heathrow to collect someone?

I instead used a valet parking company, but they don’t have any provisions for electric car charging either. How difficult would it be to incorporate it into their service? It could be a huge hit for anyone with an electric car within commuting distance from Heathrow.

On the way home I could have stopped at the services, grabbed a coffee and given the Outlander a quick charge using Ecotricity’s fast charge point (using another card I’d handily registered for). But that can only charge to 80% giving me something like 20 miles electric range (probably far less at motorway speeds). That would have saved me around £3 in petrol – or, roughly the cost of a coffee I would have bought to pass time waiting for it to charge.

I couldn’t see the point, so I drove the Outlander PHEV like a big, petrol SUV carrying an empty battery in a manner of someone who wanted to get home from the airport. The result? 24mpg. Ouch.

Fortunately, we’re spending six months with the Outlander, but we’ll see if it starts to get more convincing over time. So far it’s proving to be slightly irritating to run – but that’s more down to the infrastructure rather than the car itself.

Carlos Ghosn

Nissan has taken control of Mitsubishi

Carlos GhosnNissan taken control of Japanese rival Mitsubishi by completing a deal to take a 34% equity stake in the crisis-hit manufacturer.

Mitsubishi will become part of the Renault-Nissan Alliance – which is now one of the world’s top three car groups. Combined, they will this year sell more than 10 million cars.

It means the tireless Carlos Ghosn, already CEO of Renault and Nissan, now becomes chairman of Mitsubishi too. He has conducted a reshuffle of his management time so he can find the time to do it – and one of them is a Brit: Nissan chief performance officer Trevor Mann now becomes COO of Mitsubishi.

Mitsubishi was ripe for takeover after admitting it had been lying about the fuel consumption of dozens of models for the past 25 years. Ghosn, never one to mince his words, admitted Mitsubishi was on the ropes and the equity takeover was one charged with helping it recover.

“We are committed to assisting Mitsubishi Motors as it rebuilds customer trust,” said Ghosn. “This is a priority as we pursue the synergies and growth potential of our enlarged relationship.”

Economies of scale will give the giant new global group “breakthrough technologies and manufacturing capabilities to produce vehicles to serve customer demand in every market segment and in every geographic market around the world.” It possesses a formidable arsenal of size, reach and technology.

“At a time of unprecedented change in the global auto industry, this strategy will build on our existing strengths and management capabilities to ensure increased competitiveness, better products for our customers and attractive returns for shareholders.”

Buy a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and get a free home charger

Buy a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and get a free home charger

Buy a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and get a free home charger

Mitsubishi is offering buyers of its Outlander PHEV a Chargemaster Homecharge unit supplied and fitted free of charge.

The firm will be hoping the free home charger perk, which saves customers £279, will help boost sales of the plug-in SUV which has seen a drop in sales in 2016.

The car also received a few minor updates at the recent Paris Motor Show, including a new ‘EV priority’ switch which prevents the engine kicking in when the battery is charged. It will also get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity for 2017.

The Chargemaster Homecharge unit charges the Outlander 60% faster than a 13A socket, taking about three hours to provide a full battery (with an official range of up to 32 electric-only miles).

Chargemaster CEO, David Martell, said: “Customers buying a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV can make the best use of its range by charging it every day. Our free Homecharge offer now makes this even easier. Chargemaster is committed to making charging easy and accessible for every EV motorist, and the team can’t wait to get started on the campaign and future Homecharge installations to support Mitsubishi.”

More than 30,000 Chargemaster Homecharge units have been installed in the UK, says the company, with each one coming with a three-year guarantee.

The offer is open to new Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV customers registered between 14 October and 28 December 2016, with an installation date of 31st January 2017 or earlier.

Outlander PHEV buyers also get a free Polar Plus membership card, giving access to Chargemaster’s network of more than 5,000 public charge points across the UK.