Petrol may be the cheapest it's been for ages but there's still a planet to save. While Tesla is going all electric with its offerings, most mere mortals cannot afford £100,000 for its sexy Model S. In the meantime, the Outlander PHEV is an interesting plug-in hybrid offering from Mitsubishi at less than £30,000.
The car's driveline was custom-made for it and consists of a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine, with the inverter and charger at the front, the battery pack under the floor and two 80bhp electric motors, which permanently drive each end of the car. The engine charges the battery via a generator when the car is in series hybrid mode and partly drives the front wheels at speed and generates current in parallel hybrid mode. Got that?
Testing one of these has an interesting effect on your driving. You actually begin to take a close interest in how you're doing in the war on carbon - you are careful with your right foot and spend much time in close study of the dashboard displays and your energy use. You find yourself coaxing the thing around town testing how far you can get on a full charge without allowing the petrol engine to start filling the streets with CO2.
Mitsubishi says the Outlander PHEV can cover 32.5 miles as an electric vehicle before tapping into its 45-litre fuel tank for an 'extended' range of around 500 miles. In fact, running on electricity for about 25 miles is the most I managed and 500 is a pipe dream. If you have the air conditioning on, expect even less.
In the end, what felled me was a sucker punch. One morning, it turned out I'd failed to turn the whole thing off properly the night before. So the good old fashioned 12-volt standard car battery - it still has to have one - was flat. You cannot use the massive lithium ion battery to do anything like get the show on the road. So, I required a jump start.
Also, a powertrain such as this when placed inside a large, heavy car with all the aerodynamic properties of a brick, is fighting against itself. It weighs 1,870kg - nearly 200kg more than the diesel version.
Unlike its showy Porsche and Lexus rivals, it's priced in line with its diesel equivalents. So while not cheap, it is Congestion Charge exempt and attracts a 5% company car tax rating and has good writedown values. If you do loads of miles and don't like plugging in, it will save neither fuel nor money. But for some geeky City types, this might be an answer.
SPECIFICATION: Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV GX4
Price: from £28,249
Engine: Plug-in hybrid driveline with 12kWh, 230kg lithium-ion battery pack, twin electric motors and a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine
0-62 mph: 11.0 seconds
CO2 emissions: 44 g/km
Top speed: 106 mph
Range: the claimed 'extended ' range of 500 miles is very tough to achieve