Bodystyle, dimensions and technical details

Mitsubishi's method for bringing its plug-in hybrid model to market has been refreshingly pragmatic. No billion-euro sub-brand launches, pioneering material technologies or futuristic-looking dedicated model lines required here.

No, this is just another Outlander – a normal family SUV. It’s an eminently sensible, reassuring approach and one of which we heartily approve.

It has been possible because the current Outlander, launched only last year, was designed and engineered from the outset to accept the necessary motors, batteries, controllers and inverters required of a full petrol-electric hybrid set-up.

Rather than simply integrating an electric motor with the rear axle to combine all-wheel drive functionality with a conventionally front-drive car – as some other manufacturers have chosen to do – Mitsubishi's Twin Motor system offers permanent electrically driven all-wheel drive.

The independent 80bhp electric motors incorporated into each axle are descendants of the technology used on the iMIEV, although the company says their higher output has been extracted from a smaller and lighter design.

As it can expect no assistance from the petrol engine, the rear motor has been made more torquey, developing 144lb ft, compared with the 101lb ft of the front motor. Both are fed by the 12kWh battery which is mounted between the axles and charged by the petrol engine (via a generator) in the Series Hybrid setting.

The Outlander's front and rear transaxle transmissions each include single-speed reduction gearing for EV mode, although the front one is an all-new GKN Multi-Mode eTransmission with a hydraulic clutch engaging and disengaging whenever power is required directly from the engine.

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While the rear motor produces slightly more torque, the one at the front is assisted at times of need by a 119bhp 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine.

The same combustion engine, at times of lesser need, is either shut down completely or runs solely as a generator to top up the 12kWh lithium ion battery pack under the cabin floor. Total system outputs are 200bhp and 249lb ft.

Mitsubishi says the Outlander PHEV can cover 32.5 miles as an EV before tapping into its 45-litre fuel tank for an ‘extended’ range of around 500 miles.

The former figure is low compared with some PHEVs but still looks impressive given the car’s size and cost. We recorded a kerb weight of 1870kg – 195kg heavier than the diesel Outlander we tested last year but still light enough to be fairly typical for the class. And something of a result for a plug-in hybrid.

The Outlander’s chassis is retuned but the mechanicals are carried over. Like the diesel, the PHEV comes with 190mm of ground clearance. Towing capacity is limited to 1500kg, though – 500kg less than the diesel, but still enough to tow a medium-size caravan or large trailer.

Three trim levels are offered: GX3h, GX4h and GX4hs. All are well equipped, with standard kit including dual-zone climate control, cruise control, electric windows, remote central locking, Bluetooth connectivity, a USB port, a six-speaker stereo, electric heated mirrors, automatic lights and rear parking sensors.