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Paris show: Mitsubishi to debut plug-in Outlander

Current affair: Mitsubishi has so far only released a cutaway image of the plug-in Outlander’s array of batteries and motors.

Plug-in SUV for Paris debut as Mitsubishi Australia prepares first diesel Outlander

Mitsubishi logo19 Jun 2012

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

MITSUBISHI Motors Australia will offer the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) version of its new Outlander mid-size SUV as a premium drivetrain on mid- and high-specification variants when it arrives here in the second half of 2013.

Conventional internal combustion variants – including a diesel for the first time – will be introduced to Australia from December this year, following the Outlander’s local debut at the Sydney show in October.

MMAL corporate communications manager Caitlin Beale told GoAuto the introduction of a diesel Outlander variant will give customers “a pick of drivetrains across petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid depending on lifestyle requirements”.

The Japanese brand will lay claim to a series of world firsts when the production version of its Outlander PHEV takes to the stage at the Paris motor show in September.

Mitsubishi says its first production plug-in hybrid vehicle will also be the first mass-produced EV with permanent all-wheel drive and the first mainstream car from a major manufacturer designed from the ground up to be fitted with either a traditional internal combustion engine or plug-in hybrid drivetrain.

With targeted CO2 emissions of less than 50 grams per kilometre and a combined range of 800km, the Outlander PHEV is likely to return fuel consumption in the region of two litres per 100 kilometres.

21 center imageLeft: The next generation Mitsubishi Outlander.

A prototype of the high-tech mid-size SUV driven by GoAuto in Japan last year was said to consume 1.66L/100km on the Japanese combined cycle.

The US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Chevrolet Volt range-extender EV at the equivalent of 2.5L/100km.

Mitsubishi says the Outlander PHEV’s petrol-electric drivetrain, which has three operating modes, is more suited to global markets than diesel.

However, Australia’s preference towards diesel SUVs was no doubt behind the decision to offer a diesel Outlander here for the first time.

Mitsubishi provided details of the Outlander’s new diesel engine at its Geneva debut in March this year, claiming the new 2.2-litre four-cylinder unit equipped with idle-stop will consume as little as 4.9L/100km in manual front-drive form.

Producing 110kW at 3500rpm and 360Nm at 1500-2750rpm, the diesel will be available with six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions.

The Outlander PHEV’s three operating modes include Pure, which is an electric-only mode using the front and rear electric motors to provide all-wheel drive, with a range of around 50km on a full charge.

In Series mode, the petrol engine operates as a generator to supply the two electric motors (similar to the Volt), while in Parallel mode petrol power is used to drive the front wheels, assisted by the electric motors (like conventional hybrids such as the Toyota Prius).

Mitsubishi has only released a cutaway image of the Outlander PHEV to date, showing the battery packs under the floor feeding power to the wheels in conjunction with the petrol engine.

However, the electrified version is unlikely to look much different to the rest of the third-generation Outlander range, which features the first outing of Mitsubishi’s new SUV styling direction.

Mitsubishi announced at Geneva that the new Outlander will be lighter and more aerodynamic than the current model and offer crash-prevention technologies such as lane-departure warning, automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.

In addition to the aforementioned diesel engine, a 110kW/195Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol unit will also be offered, fitted with idle-stop and Mitsubishi’s next-generation MIVEC valve control system to boost efficiency.

The current Outlander is offered with two petrol engines in Australia – a 2.4-litre four-cylinder and a 3.0-litre V6, with the latter with 4WD only and accounting for just 10 per cent of local sales.

Petrol Outlanders will be offered with a five-speed manual or continuously variable transmission (CVT).

The new Outlander will match the current model for wheelbase, width and height, and grows just 10mm in length.

It will continue to be offered with seven seats and a powered tailgate, while the driver will have access to high-resolution instrument displays.

Dual-zone air-conditioning will be introduced, as will a 50:50 split-fold rear seat and reach adjustment for the steering wheel.

Mitsubishi has promised more vehicle premieres for Paris, aimed at a European audience.

At the Sydney show, the Outlander will debut alongside the new Mirage light car that will go on sale in early 2013.

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