Outlander PHEVHeadlineauto

Mitsubishi Motors in the UK believes their new plug-in hybrid SUV will be the most important car they have sold in decades.

Speaking exclusively to AOL Cars, the company's sales and marketing director, Toby Marshall, said he firmly believes the new Outlander Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) represents a major opportunity for the brand in the UK.

"The car is as important as the L200 pickup was/is," he said. "The L200 has a 30 per cent penetration level for us."

Marshall added the Outlander Plug-in Hybrid will be a halo model for the brand in the UK, and will help drive new sales to the brand. "Along with the new Outlander diesel model and the Mirage supermini, we strongly believe the Outlander PHEV will widen our appeal to customers."

Marshall told us the Outlander PHEV will arrive in UK dealerships in August to September 2013, and there will be an advance ordering system. Mitsubishi reckons the only real rival to the car is the Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid – but that was only limited to 125 units this year.

"We can sell as many as we want," said Marshall. "Our car is bigger, more practical and won't cost as much as the Volvo."

The V60 costs around £47k (before the £5k Government grant) in the UK; Marshall hinted the entry-level Outlander PHEV will be priced at "under £40k" (after the £5k grant) but will still come with luxuries such as leather upholstery.

Mitsubishi sees the Outlander PHEV as a car that is a combination of the iMiEV electric car, the Shogun off-roader and the Lancer Evolution. It'll also be available in two trim levels.

The permanent four-wheel-drive SUV uses a 2.0-litre petrol and two electric motors. Total range is 550 miles; electric mode range is 31 miles and combined fuel economy is 141mpg. It takes just four hours to charge.