For anyone cool enough to spend their free time reading car reviews, you will know that almost every car that has ever been driven is, in some way or another, “sleek”. Now, I never quite understood the use of this simple adjective in the description of an automobile. Sure, you could say that the interior of a Rolls Royce is ‘elegant’, or that the experience of driving a Ford Escort 100E is ‘bone-shattering’, but sleek? I wasn’t convinced. Until I stepped into the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.
From the almost exclusively leather interior, to the way it drives, everything about this machine is, to its very core, sleek. Before you even open the doors to this vehicle, it is immediately noticeable that this is not your everyday, run of the mill 4×4, or even hybrid car for that matter. The design is not angular and square, as you find with the majority of larger cars in the post-Defender era, instead this is a more compact and curved body that is deceptively spacious on the inside.
The space afforded by the design of the body is amply filled and outfitted with upholstery that would make an aged Italian man weep, and tech with such a wide range of customisable options and features that even the most inquisitive child could happily spend hours locked in there without a complaint (that’s not an excuse to leave your dog locked in there, they can’t read). However, whilst there is indeed a NASA-esque bank of technology on the dashboard, the software is surprisingly simple and easy to use. For the first time that I can remember, there exists a satellite navigation system that doesn’t require an MSc to use, and it actually works on the Jersey roads. Unlike almost every TomTom I’ve ever seen, you won’t end up at La Hogue Bie when you’re trying to find L’Etacq.
As well as a functioning SatNav, the display can show you numerous bits of varyingly vital information on your drive (let’s be honest, most of you will just use it to show you that you’re listening to 103). Perhaps the most important, and definitely the only one that I used, is the display showing you the information concerning the electric and petrol motors that the car uses. What makes this car so unique in its field is its hybrid nature. Now, I know normally ‘hybrid’ evokes images of pyjama-wearing, Prius-praising uber-hippies that would rather see cattle farmers plunged into poverty than eat a steak. But don’t worry, Toyota don’t own the exclusive rights to electric engines, and where they have failed, Mitsubishi have succeeded in beefing up the hybrid image (see what I did there?). The PHEV has both a petrol and an electric engine, the latter of which takes only five hours to fully charge on a standard 240V mains plug. There is also a fast charge socket that works in roughly 30 minutes, however this socket doesn’t yet exist in Jersey. I took the car out for roughly an hour, and practically without engaging the system that charges the battery whilst braking I only got down to roughly 30% charge. To surmise, it’s efficient. Really, really efficient. Even the petrol engine in hybrid mode gets 1.8 litres per 100km.
The driving experience of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is, quite possibly, the smoothest I’ve ever experienced. As you turn on the keyless ignition, the only word that comes to mind is our old favourite: sleek. Gone are the days when the roar of a V8 would earn you the respect of all within earshot. Today, the quieter your car, the better, and anybody who lives in a residential area will vouch for that. With the Outlander PHEV, prepare to be the most popular person on the block, as you start up and pull off in complete silence. However, don’t mistake a lack of noise to mean a lack of power. At a decibel level that is almost disconcertingly low, the PHEV’s engine, even when in the energy-saving Eco Mode, remains powerful enough to pack a serious punch off the line, and is, for lack of a better word chunky on the open road (in the best sense possible). Unlike many other hybrid cars, this one does not suffer from a case of, what I would call, “technological veganism”. Other than a lack of growl, it’s easy to forget you’re driving an electric car, and being able to literally see on the screen display that you are saving the planet by emitting zero arbitrary units of CO2 is just an added bonus.
All in all, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV surpassed every expectation I had. Admittedly, my assumptions were based upon prior hybrid and electric cars, but this machine is clearly leaps and bounds ahead of pretty much all other companies in this field (I’m saying “pretty much” because I’m hoping Gallery will let me take out a Tesla at some point in the future). The sleek and sophisticated design of both the exterior and interior are just the icing and cherry on the metaphorical cake, but trust me that’s some rich buttercream icing and a hand-picked B.C. cherry.