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Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross test: idiosyncratic plug-in hybrid with fast charging

Plug-in hybrids are repeatedly criticized on this channel, mainly because the overall energy consumption is too high. Because in the annual mean measured from the electricity meter, in practice hardly any PHEV can travel significantly below 30 kWh 100 km. The technical structure of the Mitsubishi Eclipse plug-in hybrid differs fundamentally from what German car manufacturers usually serve. A test should clarify what the customer gets from this special route.

Cars with PHEV from German production mostly use the electric motor between the combustion engine and the transmission. Although this is not as efficient as possible, it can be implemented with comparatively little effort. Mitsubishi, on the other hand, is pursuing a different concept. The 2.4-liter petrol engine is largely only used as a generator that charges a battery from which two electric motors can then be used. The idea behind such a path: The combustion engine can often work in the range of its best efficiency. The petrol consumption should therefore tend to be comparatively low.

The front electric motor has an output of 60 kW, the one on the rear axle 70, both of which are synchronous motors. The 2.4-liter gasoline engine with 72 kW obviously manages without charging, because it is only very rarely directly responsible for propulsion. However, Mitsubishi has not saved any effort. Timing and valve lift are variable, whenever possible, the internal combustion engine runs in the Atkinson cycle. The intake valves do not close until well after bottom dead center, so the compression stroke begins later than in engines with “normal” valve timing. This increases the thermal efficiency. The fact that the torque drops does not matter, because this power, which the driver can feel during acceleration, is provided by the electric machines in the hybrid concept of the Eclipse on request.

Mitsubishi states a system output of 138 kW, i.e. 188 hp in the size that has been common for a long time. Should anyone approach this Eclipse in the hope of getting a particularly fast SUV with this drive, the factory specification slows down: 10.9 seconds from zero to 100 km / h and 162 km / h top are not necessarily what you think of almost 190 hp expected, not even in a two-tonne model. Comparable SUVs of the competition drive the Eclipse on and off, and not only on paper.

The furnishing does not look very modern, but functional.
(Image: Florian Pillau)

In practice, the qualities of the drive are certainly not based on dynamic propulsion. The absolute driving performance is at best satisfactory, whereby one should not forget: The steady speed level of the gasoline engine with increasing speed also contributes to the fact that the impression ultimately remains tough. Well, performance is not everything, and not everyone will value being able to swim particularly far ahead in the morning commute.

Because the drive, which usually works in series, certainly has its advantages: It drives the SUV acoustically without excitement, provided the driver does not request all the reserves. The traction is excellent. And finally: How elegantly the drive unobtrusively distributes its forces will surely fascinate technically interested people.

Not only they are wondering what the customer has from the concept besides abstaining from performance. After all, the technical effort promises, above all, low consumption. But even here it will disappoint many expectations. Significantly less than seven liters require a good deal of restraint, at a minimum I came to 6.3 liters / 100 km without first charging the battery. On the autobahn there are quickly more than 8, and all without ambitious speed escapades, which the SUV is not capable of anyway.

Not only the drive structure is unusual in the Eclipse, but also the possibility of being able to charge the battery quickly, albeit only via the Chademo connector, which is comparatively rare in this country. The charge level should rise from zero to 80 percent within 25 minutes. This is exceptionally fast for a plug-in hybrid. Mitsubishi specifies the energy content of the battery as 13.8 kWh. Based on this information, this would correspond to an average charging power of 26.5 kW. However, the battery management apparently always keeps a decent buffer as a reserve.

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