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Tokyo show: Mitsubishi’s next Outlander shapes up

On the way: The next-generation Mitsubishi Outlander compact SUV is likely to go on sale in Australia in the first half of 2013.

PX-MiEV II concept previews 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander and latest plug-in hybrid tech

Mitsubishi logo10 Nov 2011

By TERRY MARTIN

MITSUBISHI has revealed a near-production version of its redesigned Outlander compact SUV – complete with an upgraded plug-in hybrid powertrain – in the form of the PX-MiEV II concept.

To make its world premiere at the Tokyo motor show on November 30 alongside the Colt-replacing new-generation Mirage light car, the PX-MiEV II extends on the original concept with a close-to-market design – still faithful to the first iteration two years ago – and a bigger 2.0-litre engine as part of the hybrid system.

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) plans to launch the new Outlander in its financial year ending March 31, 2013, and its Australian subsidiary this week told GoAuto it is expected on sale here in the first half of 2013, with the plug-in hybrid powertrain available from launch.

“You can see that, if the global launch was by the end of March 2013, we wouldn’t be too far off that,” said Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited (MMAL) head of corporate communications Lenore Fletcher.

“Australia is a significant market for Mitsubishi, so we do tend to get our products coming through quite quickly.”

First shown at the 2009 Tokyo show, the PX-MiEV combines a conventional internal combustion engine – serving as a generator but also driving the front wheels as required – with a lithium-ion battery pack and two electric motors, one powering the front wheels and the other the rears.

No specific outputs are provided for the 2.0-litre MIVEC four-cylinder engine, which replaces the 85kW/125Nm 1.6-litre engine from the original concept, but the electric motors remain with a maximum 60kW each.

21 center imageThe electric-only driving range remains at approximately 50km, but, significantly, Mitsubishi claims the PX-MiEV II has a target cruising range of more than 800km – no figure was given with the previous version – and super-frugal combined-cycle fuel economy of better than 60km per litre, or 1.67L/100km.

The previous version was rated at 2.0L/100km.

Mitsubishi claims the PX-MiEV II’s high environmental performance and fuel efficiency “effectively extinguishes many negative perceptions of SUVs”.

“MMC’s unique plug-in hybrid system fuses EV technology derived from the i-MiEV with a small conventional engine that features MMC’s latest fuel and environmental efficiency technologies,” the company said.

“This combination provides not only a combined fuel efficiency of more than 60km per litre, far superior than that of a conventional engine-driven car, but also very high levels of environmental performance while maintaining a cruising range on a par with conventional engine-driven vehicles – over 800km.”

MMC says the 100 per cent instant torque provided by the electric motors from a standing start provide acceleration comparable to that of a 3.0-litre V6 engine, while dynamic performance benefits from the use of Mitsubishi’s S-AWC (Super All Wheel Control) traction control system based on the 4WD technology developed in the Lancer Evolution X.

As before, the PX-MiEV’s drive battery powers the front motor/front wheels at low to medium vehicle speeds, with the rear motor switching on for 4WD whenever traction wanes.

The petrol engine automatically kicks in at higher speeds and/or when battery power falls to a predetermined level, running in front-wheel drive but also reverting to 4WD via the rear motor when required.

The driver can manually select a ‘Battery Drive Mode’ for full-electric driving (providing there is sufficient battery power), as well as a ‘Battery Charge Mode’ to control the use of battery power and use the engine as a generator to charge the batteries.

The plug-in hybrid system allows recharging from domestic supplies or from high-powered quick-charging outlets, but there is no mention of a wireless charging feature that featured on the original concept.

Also carrying over is a socket that allows the electricity stored in the drive batteries to be used to power electric appliances when camping or in other outdoor pursuits, or to provide an emergency power source.

Full specifications are still to be provided, but the five-seat PX-MiEV II has emerged slightly longer and lower than the original concept, measuring 4660mm in length (up 90mm) and 1680mm high (down 55mm), while overall width remains at 1830mm.

No wheelbase or track figures are given, but the first PX-MiEV had a 2630mm wheelbase and a 1570mm front/rear track.

The current Outlander measures 4665mm long, 1800mm wide and 1720mm high, with a 2670mm wheelbase and 1540mm front/rear track.

The wheels on the PX-MiEV II are down from 20-inch show specials (with 245/45-section rubber) to more production-oriented 18-inch rims with 235/55R18 tyres.

As GoAuto has reported, the plug-in version of the Outlander might not be the first electrified SUV in the Mitsubishi stable to be released in Australia, with MMAL awaiting confirmation of another ultra-green model, tipped to be a plug-in version of the ASX.

MMC has committed to introducing eight new full-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles globally by 2015 – a process that will see every vehicle in the Mitsubishi range become available with an electric or plug-in hybrid variant.

One of these is the reborn Mirage light hatch, which MMAL has confirmed is due to launch here with conventional engines in late 2012, with the full-electric version to follow soon after.

MMAL president and CEO Gen Nishina told us at the Melbourne motor show in July that the company’s forthcoming plug-in hybrid SUV range will be perfectly placed in Australia, where longer travel distances potentially make hybrid a more suitable technology than full electric.

“This is my very personal view, but the Australian people love the SUVs – your parents may have loved the station wagon, but your generation would probably prefer SUVs to the conventional station wagon – so in that regard I think plug-in hybrid is more suitable than pure electric at this moment in Australia,” he said.

MMC said this week the PX-MiEV II “delivers the environmental performance and quietness inherent to an EV in an SUV package that provides more comfortable motoring and allows for higher utility outside of a city commuter”.

It also said the vehicle “takes environmentally friendly vehicles to a new level with its unique blend of fuel and environmental efficiency, performance and utility”.

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