Mitsubishi has updated its plug-in hybrid Outlander but it remains a tough sell, with an electric-only range of just 54km.

The main drawcard for the new model is a larger, 2.4-litre petrol engine, for those times when you’re not operating on battery power — and that’s most of the time.

It delivers 94kW of power and 211Nm of torque, compared to the previous 2.0 litre’s 87kW/186Nm, promising a better driving experience, with a wider spread of torque.

You might notice the output is a little less then the regular Outlander, but that’s because the engine is set up to run on the leaner Atkinson cycle (look it up).

Despite the fact it has a bigger battery, with 15 per cent more capacity and 10 per cent more output — the electric-only range of the new model has not changed one iota.

Ironically, however, overall fuel consumption (power and petrol modes combined) rises from 1.7 to 1.9L/100km — splitting hairs, perhaps?

Understanding the big picture helps.

Mitsubishi is targeting those people who live near the city and could conceivably commute in and out on a single charge, or even better have access to a charge point at their place of work or shopping destination.

Run out of charge and it doesn’t really matter because the car will seamlessly flip over to the petrol engine and get you home.

Mitsubishi claims the PHEV offers a real-world EV driving range that suits the kind of use that most family cars are put to: short city and suburban drives in stop-go traffic (where internal combustion engines are least efficient).

And, thanks to the seamless integration of the petrol engine, there is no range anxiety (or need for a second vehicle) for longer drives.

In reality charging the car is a pain in the butt, as we discovered when we test drove the PHEV last year.

At the very least you need off-street parking and access to a power point which could mean asking other member of the household to move their car out of the way, so you can get access.

Charging takes approximately 7 hours with a standard household outlet, 3 hours with a dedicated charger or 25 mins using a DC fast charger.

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV offers three Drive Modes, all automatically activated by the PHEV Operating System:

EV Priority Mode

  • Car powered by the front and rear motors
  • Energy sourced from the battery

Series Hybrid Mode

  • Car still powered by the front and rear motors
  • Engine engaged to run the generator to charge the battery while driving
  • Mode automatically activated for sudden acceleration, driving uphill or when the state of battery charge is too low
  • System switches back to EV Priority mode as much as possible

Parallel Hybrid Mode

  • Engine powers front wheels (via Multimode front transaxle)
  • Front electric motor assists engine, rear motor drives rear wheels
  • Mode automatically activated at high speed
  • System switches to Series Hybrid/ EV Priority mode as much as possible

Outlander PHEV is priced from $50,990 driveaway.

CHECKOUT: Mitsubishi’s plug and play hybrid

CHECKOUT: Mitsubishi Outlander: Where to from here?

Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.