Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) will feature two debuts at the 88th Geneva International Motor Show, which will be held from March 6-18: the European premiere of the Mitsubishi e-Evolution Concept, and the global premiere of the new 2019 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, which will be introduced to the European market towards the end of the year.
The Japanese carmaker says the vehicles express “MMC’s product strategy as part of the brand’s ambitions: a carefully crafted blend of SUV expertise and electro-mobility technology, augmented with state-of-the-art system integration technologies for a progressive driving experience”.
The Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid electric Twin Motor SUV was introduced in 2013. Since then, it has become part of MMC’s core business and was Europe’s best-selling plug-in hybrid vehicle in 2015, 2016 and 2017. More than 100,000 have been sold in Europe so far and over 140,000 units worldwide.
The 2019 model year variant features a next generation system with “both EV and SUV breakthroughs. More SUV and more EV than ever, the newest iteration unveiled in Geneva will push boundaries even further with – amongst others – a complete redesign of its powertrain, with sharper dynamics, a more refined interior, and a subtle design evolution”.
A 2.4 Atkinson cycle petrol engine replaces the previous regular Otto cycle 2.0 litre. It allows for higher torque, smoother operation, and overall higher efficiency.
The generator output is increased by 10% and the rear motor output is increased by 10%. The drive battery capacity gains 15% and the drive battery output is increased by 10%.
The NORMAL and 4WD LOCK modes of previous models are joined by two additional driving modes: A SPORT mode gives the driver more direct control for greater driving enjoyment on winding roads while a SNOW mode ‘provides greater confidence on snow-covered or slippery surfaces’.
The car’s outside appearance features a number of improvements, such as new LED tech-look headlamps, rectangular front fog lamp bezels, a more substantial front grille and a larger rear spoiler.
Inside, there’s quilted leather upholstery, new hip-hugging front seats, revised switchgear, a new instrument panel, new trimming and rear A/C outlets.
This is a technical prototype that aims “to illustrate the strategic directions of a renewed Mitsubishi Motors brand”.
The all-electric high-performance SUV embodies the company’s new brand strategy “that reflects an adventurous and progressive mindset for inspirational design and product, based on breakthrough SUVs, and driven by a fusion of electrification and system integration”.
The front is a fresh take on MMC’s archetypal ‘dynamic shield’ design. The grille is shielded under glass, apparently as “a subtle hint that this car is a high performance electric vehicle”.
Under the glass sit cameras and sensors. Aerodynamics were improved by large air intakes beneath the headlamps, which also help to cool the brake calipers.
The absence of a big internal combustion engine under the bonnet gave designers the space to create a novel cockpit. The instrument panel appears to float in front of the driver.
A large flat screen spans the full width of the dashboard, displaying outside conditions, navigation and coaching information. The screen is flanked by two smaller screens, showing views supplied by front and rear cameras.
The e-Evolution Concept uses high-torque, high-performance electric motors fed by a high-capacity battery system to deliver a “smooth and powerfully responsive performance”. The drive battery is located amidships under the floor, providing a low centre of gravity for stability.
The triple motor 4WD system employs a single motor to drive the front wheels, complemented by a new Dual Motor Active Yaw Control (AYC) system that couples two rear motors through an electronically controlled torque-vectoring unit. All of this is integrated into the Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) vehicle dynamic control system making for improved cornering performance and traction.
The ‘brain’ of the vehicle is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system that augments the driver’s capabilities. An array of sensors allows the AI system to instantly read changes in road and traffic conditions, as well as the driver’s intent. Mitsubishi says that “by making it easier and safer to control the vehicle, the motoring experience is brought to a new level”.
A special coaching function “allows the AI system to transfer knowledge to the driver, and to unobtrusively enhance the driving expertise. After building a picture of the driver’s skill level, the system constructs a training programme that provides advice through voice dialogue and a large dashboard display”.