Our Cars: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

2 June 2015: Playing the regeneration game

The Details

Current mileage 1763
Claimed economy 148.6mpg
Actual economy 50.7mpg

Just like in a rowing competition, keeping the Outlander moving along efficiently requires careful use of the paddles - but on the Mitsubishi they are made of metal and sprout out of the steering column. They also take a lot less effort to operate than those on a boat and don’t require any kind of teamwork.

On the Mitsubishi the paddles don’t operate the gearbox – because there isn’t one. Instead, they let you choose the level of regeneration available when lifting off the throttle pedal, from zero to five. Zero is no regen at all, five is a lot - and it turns out making the most of this function takes a lot of forethought.

The regen system on the Outlander translates slowing down into extra juice for the battery. By default, selecting Drive on the gear selector gives you level two regen, which makes the car feel like normal automatic. Backing off the gas pedal gives you some deceleration, much like engine braking on a regular petrol-powered car.  

Flicking the left paddle increases the level of regen one step at a time to the maximum of five. At level five lifting off the gas pedal causes the car to noticeably slow down, without any pressure on the brake. This is great in town, where you’re likely to be stopping and starting a lot.

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The green 'B5' means maximum regen 

Obviously this is all done for a reason – deceleration on most cars is almost entirely down to the brake pads and discs, but these are inefficient – friction and heat effectively waste the energy that was used to get you up to speed. The regen system on the Outlander harnesses much of the energy used to accelerate and puts it back in the battery.

The pads and discs then get used less harshly than they would with no regeneration system. This gives another saving when it comes to replacement parts, since the pads and discs last longer. You might think, then, that the regen should be set to maximum all the time? But it’s often better for the EV range to turn it off entirely.

With zero regen the car coasts along, picking up speed on downhill sections and rolling along on straight roads, all the while consuming no fuel. Touching the brake pedal gently still initiates regenerative braking first, before the pads and discs, so when you do need to slow down you still save a lot of energy.

It’s possible to coast more than a mile on my commute – something learned through practice. In fact I now intuitively know what level of regen to use in what situation, which means I am always using the left and right paddles. Like on a boat. 

« Earlier: Keeping the batteries charged     Later: The Outlander’s sat nav is evil »

Updates
After six months of driving around on a mixture of petrol and electricity, it's time to say goodbye to the Outlander PHEV.
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Matt was initially impressed with the space and quietness of the Outlander, but after covering some miles does he still like it?
John hands the Outlander over to Matt Vosper for a couple of weeks to see if it suits his high mileage driving.
If you've settled on the idea of driving a pluh-in hybrid, what other options are there aside from the Outlander?
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The navigation system in the Outlander seems to be haunted by the ghost of a demon headmistress...
2 June 2015: Playing the regeneration game
The Outlander has paddles for choosing one of five levels of regenerative braking - mastering them can add miles to the range.
Keeping the Outlander PHEV topped up is essential if you want to make the most of a tank of petrol - these are the methods.
We welcome the plug-in hybrid Mitsubishi Outlander. Part electric car, part petrol car, all futuristic.
 

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