Idealog goes for a spin: Outlander Plug-in Hybrid

Think of an SUV and you’ll probably get images of massive shaking engines spitting smoke from a screaming exhaust. The new Outlander Plug-in Hybrid has touched down without a whiff of fumes and it’s got the technology to impress the masses. Idealog takes one for a spin.

The Outlander Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle – or PHEV for short – introduces a new level of performance to the world of electric vehicles. The SUV offers unparalleled efficiency, beautiful styling, and incredible technology, without skimping on the classic SUV benefits: safety, comfort, room, and of course, power to all four wheels. It makes driving through a congested and hilly city, a flowing motorway, or a country road an unimaginably enjoyable experience. 

Can you hear that? It’s the sound of economy

Let’s talk numbers: Two 60kw electric motors, 52km range in pure electric mode, 100% torque from a standstill, and 1.8L
per 100km. Or, if our calculations are correct, 0L per 52km in full electric mode. Seeing as the average Kiwi commute is 38km a day – much less in the larger cities – that equates to a pleasingly low fuel bill. To put that 100% torque figure in layman’s terms – you put your foot down and your head is forced into the head rest while you smile like a dork. It’s a lot of fun. A lot of environmentally friendly fun.

There’s an app for that

When you’re asleep – and hopefully not using the PHEV – you simply plug the special charging cord into the car and a regular three-pin plug into a power source to fully charge the battery in 6.5 hours. All for around $1.50. The real brains of the system come from the smartphone app though – to take full advantage of off-peak electricity, and naturally be even more kind to the environment, you can set the charging time. And on those bitter winter mornings you can even crank up the seat warmers and demister while you’re finishing off your toast. 

Honey, could you check my blind spot?

Multi Around View Reversing Camera. What is it? Cameras placed on the front and rear of the car, as well as the wing mirrors. The result is a completely 360° topographical view of the car and its surroundings as you reverse. A refreshing departure from achingly turning your head or squinting into the two side mirrors to guide you. 

One plus one equals 4WD

The PHEV utilises two electric motors, one in the front and one in the rear, that run independently of each other and the SUV’s petrol engine. Since they do run independently, there is no drive shaft running the length of the vehicle like all other 4WDs, so you get instantaneous application of power to all four wheels. The major benefit with the system is safety and control when driving in wet and slippery conditions. Note: it was very wet when we test drove the car and it performed flawlessly. 

Connected

When you combine the smartphone app with the Bluetooth connectivity inside the car, you truly are connected to this vehicle. Make hands-free calls, control music, or get directions to that meeting you’re late for, all without taking your eyes off the road or hands off the wheel. When you’re not driving and need to enter an address, or even create a playlist, you interact with the stunning 7” audio touch screen.

Space for your life

Most electric vehicles have one major downfall – they’re small. You’d struggle to fit your family of five, Harry the dog, the picnic lunch, and the overnight bags in the back. The PHEV has no trouble gobbling it all up – with 463L of boot space, or 886L with the rear seats down, you’ll be off to the beach or heading up the mountain for a ski without the headache of playing Tetris with your belongings.

So, whether you’re going electric on your daily commute or driving the length of the country with the help of the petrol engine, the Outlander PHEV has the smarts, performance, and space to meet all of your vehicular demands. All of that, for only $59,990.