Our cars: Mitsubishi Outlander, Skoda Octavia and Hyundai Santa Fe

Getting to know our Mitsubishi Outlander has required lots of handbook checking, the Santa Fe has a motorway moment and the Skoda Octavia heads off on holiday

Words By Tom Webster

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Today, we turn the spotlight on three cars on our long-term test fleet - the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, the Skoda Octavia and the Hyundai Santa Fe.

Mitsubishi Outlander

We’ve got a few miles under the wheels of our plug-in Outlander now but the handbook has been a regular companion as we’ve got used to the SUV’s various quirks.

That sounds a little like a criticism, but it isn’t. It’s just that there are a few things to learn to make sure that the Outlander is working at its best. For example, there are a few drive and charging mode options to get to grips with, and the level of power regeneration is adjustable, too. At its simplest, you can just hop behind the wheel and drive, but in order to get the most out of the electric range available and to get the best economy, understanding the car’s power systems is important.

For example, fresh from a full charge, the car indicates a range of 27 miles, but with the air-con switched on, that drops to just 22 miles. That said, the car manages its own use of battery power, seamlessly firing up the petrol engine as and when required. There are buttons to preserve battery charge and also to charge the battery while you drive, if you aren’t happy with the car’s own management of its system. You can also force four-wheel drive mode if you need it. The car is capable of some very clever stuff, but understanding it all means you need to do some revision.

While all this is very interesting, the thing that everyone really wants to know is the mpg figure. So far, with daily charging and some weekend running about, I’ve completed over 400 miles on half a tank of fuel. The car is at its best when just pootling along and that steady driving is the key to good economy.

I’ve not actually refuelled the car enough to get meaningful mpg figures yet, but some sketchy β€˜back of an envelope’ estimates give a very rough figure on my 25-mile round trip commute of somewhere around 90mpg. To me, that seems like a very promising start. I’d hope that in the next week or so, we’ll have some more concrete figures to look at.

By Nigel Donnelly

Read all our weekly updates on life with our Outlander

Elsewhere in the car park

**The Hyundai Santa Fe has a brief encounter with some motorway debris

The Skoda Octavia heads off on holiday