New Outlander Previews Mitsubishi’s Future, Next Evo Outlined

New Mitsubishi Outlander 19 photos
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New Mitsubishi Outlander fleetNew Mitsubishi Outlander badge2013 Mitsubishi Outlander 2013 Mitsubishi OutlanderNew Mitsubishi Outlander front and rearNew Mitsubishi Outlander 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander 4WD badgeMitsubishi badge on new Outlander New Mitsubishi Outlander 2.2 DI-D engineNew Mitsubishi Outlander interior2013 Mitsubishi Outlander in rear view mirrorNew Mitsubishi Outlander interiorNew Mitsubishi Outlander center consoleNew Mitsubishi Outlander dialsTomohisa Nishina, President and CEO Mitsubishi EuropeDaniel Nacass, General Manager Public Relations Mitsubishi EuropeLeonard Ungureanu, Head of Mitsubishi RomaniaTomohisa Nishina, President and CEO Mitsubishi Europe
Mitsubishi is one of the car companies that places engineering at the core of its activities and now that we find ourselves in a time when the carmaker is introducing a new product cycle, one that is aimed at turning the company into a green car producer, I'm  curious to see what the engineers are preparing for us.

The product cycle, which is scheduled to last until 2017, debuts with the fresh Outlander, so I recently attended a launch event for the model to better understand the company’s philosophy - five years of market presence at the contemporary development rate of the automotive industry is not a small thing.

While the event itself, the Romanian market launch of the car, was obviously focused on introducing the crossover, the principles that stand behind the development of the new generation of the Outlander are a good indication of what the next models on Mitsubishi’s list will have to offer.

The Outlander has managed to convince 1 million customers since it was born in 2001, so the new one has to live up to this, which means that it has to be better than its predecessor in every single way. So how what did the engineers do in order to achieve this goal?

The development started with a drawing board, but one that had a clear principle: the car would keep the same overall dimensions. However, in between these coordinates, the model lost 100 kg (220.5 lbs), about the amount of weight that a supercar producer offers for a special edition of one of its hypermachines.

However, unlike those mechanical monsters, the Outlander has to be affordable, so they couldn’t turn to exotic materials in order to meet the target. I didn’t mention supercars for the sake of it, but because Mitsubishi has a special relationship to this kind of vehicles: the Lancer Evolution. It started out as a warmer version of a normal sedan 10 generations ago, but after playing in the WRC arena, it managed to acquire skills that allow it to give one or two negative emotions to supercars when the weather is bad.

The Evo may not be officially present in rallying anymore, but the lessons it provided while it was racing were not forgotten. Thus, just like when a rally car was built, the Outlander lost weight bit by bit, from all around the car, inside and out, with Mitsubishi also using more high-tensile strength steel pressings. For example, the third row of seats was not just turned into a features that's actually comfortable, but this is now also 10 kilograms (22 lbs) lighter.

But there’s a more direct lesson that the new Outlander learned from the Evo and that’s how to deal with the terrain below it, be it tarmac, gravel or snow. During the presentation, Tomohisa Nishina, President and CEO Mitsubishi Europe, together with Daniel Nacass, General Manager Public Relations (Europe) showed a multitude of slides, but one of them was of particular interest to me.

This revealed the assets of the Outlander’s Multi-Select 4WD system. The previous Outlander monitored wheel speed, throttle position, engine rotation and that’s where the list stopped. However, the new Outlander adds engine torque, gear ratio, steering angle, longitudinal acceleration, lateral acceleration, as well as yaw rate.

The aforementioned enumeration sounded familiar to me, as it comes from the most interesting part of the Evo, the one that earned it victories in rallying, it’s all-wheel drive system.

So this is how Mitsubishi writes its new plot, including bits and pieces of its engineering flagship into more civilian models. Of course, the target audience of the Outlander won’t wait for a rainy day in order to chase a Ferrari, but this is not they point, as any driver can use a 4WD system that gets you out of trouble, wether we’re talking about heavy rain during an open road trip or the moments when you leave the tarmac behind.

We were also told to prepare for the market introduction of the Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV), which made its debut at this year's Paris Motor Show and will land in showrooms across the world next year, being told that a surprise is heading our way. As an interesting explanation, we were also explained that the new Outlander doesn't feature Mitsubishi's twin-clutch SST gearbox anymore, as this is a global car and such a transmission wouldn't have appealed to US customers, who want a classic automatic.

This story is not even about the new Outlander, it’s about Mitsubishi and if the carmaker keeps fitting its new cars with the best it has to offer, I want a ticket to go see the show. I have a curiosity though - since Mitsubishi is now relying on the technological buffer provided by the Lancer Evolution, what are they planning for the next Evo?

As you probably know, there have been various reports that Mitshubishi would put the Evo to sleep, as it doesn’t fit the carmaker’s new eco ambitions. How could I waste the opportunity to ask both the aforementioned executives a few questions about the Evolution XI?

After thirty years of serving Mitsubishi, Nishina-san knew that it was best to let Daniel Nacas answer our questions. I wanted to know if the Evo does have a future and what kind of game would it play. Would it offer the same performance, but with a boost in efficiency, or will it up the ante on both fronts?

The answer I received was the typically “the market will dictate”, but things eventually moved past this point and I was told the “if, and there’s a big if here, so if there will be a new Evo, it will be very different to the one we have today, but it will live up to the name.”

As the words came out, Nishina-san was watching from the background, but I could see a high density of emotions in his eyes and after the whole story was over, the CEO shook my hand in a way that sent a deeper message than the well-known Japanese courtesy, as he thanked me for the interest shown.

A new Evo in a hybrid form - this is the concept everybody is talking about - which would offer the performance and emotions we’ve been accustomed with, would not only be another episode in the saga with less stress at the pump and for the planet, it would also become one of the first performance-focused cars with green credentials and that’s something which would definitely make it into the history books. If...
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About the author: Andrei Tutu
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In his quest to bring you the most impressive automotive creations, Andrei relies on learning as a superpower. There's quite a bit of room in the garage that is this aficionado's heart, so factory-condition classics and widebody contraptions with turbos poking through the hood can peacefully coexist.
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