For operators looking to improve their environmental footprints while also getting hold of a vehicle that can serve a practical working purpose both on and, to some extent at least, off road, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 4Work could be the answer.
What’s more, the automatic electric/petrol hybrid is a lot quieter and more refined than a diesel so takes much of the strain and stress out of long journeys or negotiating cross town traffic.
The PHEV’s powerplant is unlike other hybrids in that it does not work entirely on plug-in power until the electricity runs out but switches between the two sources depending on driving conditions – accelerate hard for example and the petrol engine kicks in to generate electricity to supplement the battery. For high speed motorway driving the petrol engine operates more efficiently than pure electric power and so directly drives the front wheels.
When driving in urban environments the Outlander PHEV operates in EV mode unless you accelerate sharply to activate the petrol engine.
We were impressed by the efficiency of the regenerative braking system, which can be used to recharge the battery while on the move - particularly in storing up energy before entering urban areas. Mitsubishi claims the plug-in Outlander 4Work can cover up to 32.5 miles on electric power alone and plus points are that it is exempt from the London Congestion Charge and qualifies for the Government’s 20% Plug-in Van Grant, giving it a price tag of £23,373, excluding VAT.
In total six settings are available through paddle buttons on the steering wheel to control the intensity of the regenerative charge but if you choose level six the harshness of the braking when you lift your foot off the accelerator can take a while to get used to. Selecting Eco mode on the dash improves economy further but comprehensively takes the zip out of acceleration and renders the heater ineffective.
An easy to see and understand display on the dash between the speedo and rev counter lets the driver know what mode the Outlander is operating in. Mitsubishi claims that on a combined cycle the various driving modes enable the hybrid Outlander to achieve CO2 emissions of 44g/km and fuel consumption of 148mpg.
While the commercial version of the Outlander PHEV impresses in terms of its refinement and handling with sharp steering and commendably smooth automatic transmission, it is less convincing as a genuine LCV, being very much a five-door passenger car with the rear seats taken out and a load floor put in.
It retains its rear car doors, which do not facilitate loading from the side as the sliding doors on vans do. But at least there’s two of them, which is not a given on pure bred light commercials.
There also appears to be a good deal of wasted space underneath the load floor itself although the manufacturer claims at least some of this is given over to a compartment that can be used to store tools and equipment out of sight.
The cabin is comfortable and generally well-upholstered, as you would expect for a car-derived van, but one drawback for discerning punters is the lack of DAB radio. On the other hand you do get climate control and cruise control, leather steering wheel and bluetooth as standard. The vehicle we tested did not have a bulkhead fitted, which would be an essential addition if you intend travelling safely with a full load on board.
While not a hardcore off-roader, the Outlander’s S-AWC (super all-wheel control) delivers enhanced traction on wet or muddy surfaces and selectable four-wheel drive is available for more slippery terrain.