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Automotive News reports Mitsubishi plans to bring its recently unveiled Mirage to the Canadian market, and that the five-door hatch has a 50-percent chance of making it to U.S. buyers as well. Mitsubishi pulled the Mirage nameplate from the U.S. in 2002, but unveiled a new version of the car in Thailand just last month. At a smidge over 146 inches long, the tiny hatch would be a suitable competitor for the likes of the Chevrolet Spark and give dealers a much-needed product infusion. The company killed off the Eclipse, Eclipse Spyder and the Endeavor just recently and Mitsubishi showrooms are starting to look decidedly emaciated.
But Mitsubishi says it may not be as simple as dropping the new Mirage on U.S. soil and hoping for the best. The automaker has a reworked Outlander coming down the pike, and launching two models in close succession may make already scarce marketing dollars even harder to come by.
Then there's the fact that the new Mirage is a no-nonsense, bare-bones creation designed to appeal to the budget-minded buyers of South Asia. Mitsubishi has some reservations about unleashing the model on content-hungry Americans. Even so, Mitsubishi says the company has yet to reach an official decision about a U.S. launch.Permalink | Email this | Comments
Despite staying rather quiet last year product-wise, Mitsubishi actually enjoyed a very strong sales comeback, led by its new Outlander Sport compact crossover. That crossover's larger cousin, the Outlander, has remained largely under the radar for most consumers, with a modest 2010 facelift eking out a bit of sales life for a model that has been making the rounds since 2006. That will change in 2013 with the introduction of this new Outlander, which moves away from the single-frame grille in favor of a more horizontally oriented look.
It isn't immediately clear to what extent the Outlander is all-new, as the vehicle appears to have some unusually large overhang that suggests a revision of an older chassis, but we understand that this is a new architecture underneath. Offering a size that's similar to the outgoing model, the Outlander will continue to offer both five- and seven-seat configurations, with the third row reserved for small children. In addition to a range of gas and diesel models available in various markets paired with a new six-speed automatic or manual gearbox, a plug-in hybrid variant is in the cards as early as later this year.
For more, see our gallery of live shots and the official press release after the jump.Permalink | Email this | Comments
This is not so much of a long term test, as it is a long timer test. The lovely red Evo in the pics is a 2010 model that has been on the press fleet for a long, long time. Most press cars come off the manufacturers fleet after 10 or 12,000 km, but this poor beast has well over 25,000 on the clock. Hand the keys to a hot rod to some auto journos and they become teenage hooligans again, so those 25,000 km are probably more like 100,000 km in the hands of a loving owner.
This car has had its wheels refinished recently and yet all 4 BBS rims look like they were sourced from a scrap yard. The car has been repainted and looks like someone decided to detail it with steel wool. Overall, Journos Behaving Badly have beaten the living daylights out of this 4 door rocketship. In other words, this is the perfect vehicle to see how the Mitsubishi’s flagship stands up to the real world.
The first time I drove an Evo X (it might have even been the same car) was shortly after it was released and I was still working as a Subaru dealership Service Manager. This may surprise some of you, but I thought that the WRX Sti was just ok. Yes, it was fast, it just felt a bit too mature for the juvenile that still lurks within my soul. Getting behind the wheel of the first version of Mitsubishi’s weapon to be sold in Canada was a revelation. This was how the STi should feel. The car felt rough and raw, like a race car that isn’t happy until the driver starts to pile on the throttle. It darted around on the road on acceleration and even worse under braking, because the suspension was set up for a quicker turn in, just like a race car. Here was a car that appealed to the hoon in me.
After all of the abuse, our tester felt exactly the same way as the first one I drove 2 years ago. I expected that the suspension might have softened up a bit or perhaps even started to make the odd clunk here and there as many long term media cars do. To Mitsubishi’s credit, the suspension and steering felt fantastic. That is no small feat considering the pummeling that the wheels have taken.
Our tester was an MR model that mates Mitsubishi’s Twin-Clutch Sportronic® Shift Transmission to the magnificent 2.0L 4 cylinder turbo engine. This engine produces 291 horsepower and 300 ft/lb of torque, which propels the Lancer from zero to jail in record time. I’m not a huge fan of the dual clutch type of transmission, however they work well when done right. When I first drove the MR, the Twin Clutch SST felt as good as the unit VW uses in the GTI and close to Porsche’s award winning PDK. The unit in our tester felt like it was suffering a bit, being a mite more clunky than I recall in stop and go and not shifting as crisply as the others on hard acceleration. Don’t get me wrong, it still worked well, but the transmission is often the weak point in any performance drivetrain because it is subjected to mistreatment by the driver and this unit was not a garage queen!
The interior of a press car can be a frightening space once it has been on the road for a while. Even if it has been kept clean, most press cars get used in ways that folks would never use their own cars for. As a result, seating surfaces wear out, creaks and rattles make themselves known and trim gets damaged. It is a testament to the quality of materials that Mitsubishi has used that the interior in our tester was showing zero signs of wear, looking just the way it did when it was new.
It is easy for a manufacturer to build a nice car, stuff a monster powerplant in it and impress drivers off the showroom floor. Even building a car that will run forever isn’t that tough, but building one that offers reliability and retains that new car feeling is quite an accomplishment. Not only is the 2010 Evolution just as sporting as it was at launch, but it stands up to life real world despite auto writers best attempts to wear it out.
Mitsubishi wants people to take notice of its 2011 Outlander Sport. There will be traditional print and television ad campaigns, but the automaker is also exploring new ways of reaching new car buyers. Through its creative agency 180 LA, Mitsubishi plans to put a bunch of car shoppers behind the wheel of the new crossover. Not literally, but virtually.
The automaker is rolling out its Mitsubishi Live Drive campaign that puts drivers behind the wheel of an actual Outlander Sport. They won't be sitting in the vehicle but instead they'll be in front of a computer. The CUV will be controlled remotely via users on the Internet. While we don't want to be anywhere near the car when this is happening, it's certainly a novel re-imagining of the test drive concept.
The Mitsubishi Live Drive event kicks off November 1, 2010 and runs through November 10. If you're interested in testing out your computer driving skills, you can sign up starting October 15 at OutlanderSport.com. In the meantime, you can catch a sneak peak at what's in store by viewing the video and official press release after the jump. Thanks to everyone for the tips!
Photos by Damon Lavrinc / Copyright (C)2010 Weblogs, Inc.
[Sources: Mitsubishi, AdWeek, YouTube]Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments
There has always been a glaringly obvious gap in Mitsubishi's current Lancer lineup. On the bottom is the... Lancer, a biggish-for-its-class economy car that no one particularly likes - at least that's what the sales charts would indicate. It's slow, filled with cheap plastics and dull. It hasn't even proven to be all that reliable by Japanese small-car standards, but at least it looks good. At the top of the heap and on a wholly different plane sits the Lancer Evolution. It's the giant-slayer, David, the little car that humbles supercars. It's also the hottest of the rally-inspired all-wheel-drive turbocharged pocket rockets. The Evo's only real competition is the Subaru WRX STI and, let's be honest, the Evo has been the better car for years now (Subaru has just updated its warrior for 2011, so a new comparison is in order). Its handling is more precise, yet at the same time more insane. The Mitsu is rawer, rougher, tougher and most importantly faster, even though it's down half a liter on the WRX STI in terms of displacement. Don't read this wrong, the STI is a fine backroad killer. But the EVO is more homicidal.
Back to that gap. In the middle of its arch rival's portfolio has long lived the WRX, Subaru's Goldie Loxian sportster, which is very fast, very nimble, but very well priced (it still starts at under $25,000). The WRX has long threaded the needle between excellent all-around performance and the customer not being able to afford a higher monthly payment. Subaru, therefore, has sold a ton of them, for not only does the WRX offer all that power and rally-bred oomph at a low price, it can be had as a wagon. Mitsubishi had nothing until this year, when the Japanese industrial powerhouse brought over two new flavors of its hopped-up Lancer, the Ralliart and the Ralliart Sportback.
Today we're taking a look at the supposedly more practical of those two additions, the five-door Sportback. When the pictures of the Lancer Sportback Ralliart started spilling onto this here internet, Yours Truly was especially excited. The main reason being that for the past eight years, I've owned a WRX wagon in one form or another. Biased? You could say that, but at that same time, I've been driving Evos against STIs and have remained aware (perhaps painfully aware) that the Evo is the sharper blade. Perhaps, then, the Sportback Ralliart could be my next fast and furious wagon, or at least go wheel-to-wheel with its competition from Fuji Heavy Industries? Hop the jump to find out.
Photos copyright (C)2010 Drew Phillips / AOLPermalink | Email this | Comments
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has named the Mitsubishi Lancer one of its top safety picks. The four-door sedan managed to be the first Mitsubishi that the Institute has tested to pass the new roll-over test with a "good" rating. As much as we like entertaining ourselves by thinking about the researchers flipping a bevy of cars and SUVs from 9-to-5, that isn't quite how the institute tests for rollover strength.
Instead, a large metal plate exerts a steady force on the roof of a vehicle until the crash structure deflects by five inches. At that point, the boffins measure the amount of force it took to bend the roof and compare it to the overall weight of the vehicle. From there, a strength-to-weight ratio can be established. Currently, the federal government requires a vehicle's roof to be able to withstand 1.5 times the weight of the car, and in order for a vehicle to earn a "good" rollover rating from the IIHS, the roof needs to be able to stand up to four times the weight of the vehicle.
Gallery: 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer ES
[Source: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety]Permalink | Email this | Comments