How to go rallying in a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Friday, October 14th, 2016 - autos, cars, motoring, news

Source : How to go rallying in a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Mitsubishi is usually proving its plug-in hybrid tech by abusing an Outlander PHEV on the toughest rallies on the planet. We join the team for the Baja Portalegre


There’s a feral party atmosphere at Baja Portalegre, the final round of that will year’s FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies inside the east of Portugal.

A rural hillside is usually scattered with empty Sagres bottles as well as chicken bones as well as there’s a sweet, pungent smell via bonfires of eucalyptus logs.

A mobile bar, pumping out Metallica via a battered hi-fi, is usually doing a roaring trade among the frazzled locals, who are flecked head to toe with splodges of orange mud thrown up by the competing Ford Rangers, Toyota Hiluxs as well as Nissan Navaras.

Then a different kind of car approaches. The yowl of a combustion engine is usually absent, replaced by the less perceptible whine of electric motors. Its progress is usually cheered by the crowd, appreciative of the commitment of the man behind the wheel.

that will man is usually Hiroshi Masuoka as well as his car is usually a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. Yes, the Japanese company is usually rallying a plug-in hybrid.

On paper, the concept of a production-based hybrid rally car makes sense: off-road competition cars are as much about low-end traction on variable road surfaces as they are about high speeds. The instant torque of the electric motors should prove useful, as should the ability to quickly juggle power between axles to counteract ever-changing conditions.

that will’s a theory Mitsubishi is usually setting out to prove by lending factory support to the Baja Portalegre effort. the item’s once the item has dabbled in cross-country rallying since the item withdrew via the sport in 2009, as well as that will marks a return to a sport that will helped to cement its reputation as a maker of durable SUVs.

Key to its previous success, which culminated in two outright Dakar Rally victories, was Masuoka. currently in his 50s as well as still competing on demanding events such as the Pikes Peak hillclimb, he has returned to drive the PHEV.

The team is usually managed by technical director Yasuo Tanaka as well as includes engineers via Mitsubishi’s electric vehicle component research department. the auto lives in France, at the headquarters of Vaison Sport, which assists Mitsubishi with on-event logistics.

The vehicle uses the plug-in hybrid technology that will has helped to make the Outlander PHEV the biggest-selling alternatively fuelled vehicle inside the UK, although the item has undergone significant modifications.

The control system governing the front as well as rear electric motors has been altered to deliver a higher output, as well as the generator as well as engine – which supply power to the battery as well as motors – have been modified to boost power output as well as boost overall system performance. The battery capacity has been increased via 12kWh to 16kWh.

Charging the battery via the mains adds an extra dimension to service halts between the stages. The charging port itself has been moved via its position on the right rear flank of the auto to inside the boot, to protect the item via the threat of damage inside the heat of action.

Despite the modifications, the rally car works to the same principles as the road-going Outlander PHEV, doing use of its full electric as well as series as well as parallel hybrid modes. Most of the time, the auto is usually powered by the battery as well as driven by the electric motors, while the 2.0-litre petrol engine is usually used as a generator to supply energy to the battery.

At higher speeds, however, the engine is usually deployed to also drive the front axle. Whereas the threshold for the engine to kick in is usually just over 70mph inside the road car, the item is usually set at 100mph inside the rally car.

Tein competition dampers, beefed-up suspension as well as generously sidewalled Falken Wildpeak 235/85 R16 tyres give the one-off Outlander PHEV a more imposing, high-rise stance than the production edition.

At present, there is usually no homologation for plug-in hybrids within the FIA’s cross-country rule book, so in Portugal the Mitsubishi runs at the invitation of the organisers inside the National rally supporting the International event.

Baja Portalegre follows some 
tricky gravel paths through forests as well as farmland. A short prologue 
stage is usually followed by three tests of 50, 93 as well as 124 miles.

Masuoka, navigated by Pascal Maimon, sets top-three stage times on the short opening prologue as well as second stage to lie third overall inside the National classification after day one. Then, early next morning, the auto grinds to a halt.

“the item is usually linked to a blown fuse inside the 12-volt power system,” team manager Tanaka explains as car as well as crestfallen crew are towed back to service.

Retirement looks likely, although after an impromptu team meeting as well as a quick chat with the rally organisers, the team leap into action. A road-going Outlander PHEV owned by the domestic importer is usually driven under the team awning as well as the engineers rummage inside the boot to remove the fuse as well as its holder via that will car as well as then fix the item into the rally car.

“Don’t worry, I’ve got a lift back to Lisbon,” says the boss of Mitsubishi Portugal, grinning, as his no-longer-functioning road car is usually winched onto a flatbed truck.the item takes about 20 minutes to fit the part as well as breathe brand new life into the rally PHEV. The resulting time penalties mean that will Masuoka plummets to the back of the overall standings, although he does get to tackle the 0-mile final stage.

The Outlander is usually back on the pace, too. In atrocious conditions, the crew set the second-best time as well as put more development miles on the auto.

Masuoka includes a shopping list of things he’d like to develop, among them a different damper set-up as well as much better water cooling for the rear motor, which was operating close to the top of its range in Portugal. Then there’s some weight reduction (“We could add a carbonfibre roof,” he says) as well as modifications to the transmission to improve the way the power is usually delivered.

Masuoka hopes to enter four events next season, starting which has a snow event in Russia in February. “The snow rally will be a very Great test, especially because we will be running on spiked tyres as well as in temperatures of minus 23deg C,” he says. After that will will come Italy as well as Spain before a return to Portugal at the end of the year.

Masuoka’s big dream is usually an assault on the daddy of them all, the Dakar Rally, to prove the capabilities of 
that will plug-in hybrid inside the most gruelling conditions. 

Riding inside the Outlander PHEV rally car with Masuoka

The day after Baja Portalegre, Mitsubishi’s return to cross-country rallying is usually still drawing a crowd. We’ve decamped to a town called Pego to have a passenger ride alongside Hiroshi Masuoka, as well as even the local mayor has turned up for a go.

I’m next inside the auto after the mayor. Compared which has a World Rally Car, the Outlander’s increased ride height makes the item easy to step through the roll cage struts as well as into the Recaro passenger seat of the right-hand-drive 4×4.

The cabin is usually a mess of additional wiring, telemetry screens as well as trip meters, although a few pieces of recognisable Outlander switchgear remain, notably the instruments, air conditioning switches as well as stubby gear selector. There’s no satellite navigation, though. the item has been replaced by a screen that will shows status reports on the engine, motors, batteries as well as generator.

The hydraulic handbrake lever, sited within comfortable grabbing distance for the driver, definitely isn’t a standard feature, as well as neither is usually the Momo competition steering wheel. On the centre console there’s a big, yellow, self-explanatory button marked ‘EV’.

Masuoka climbs in, puts on his spectacles as well as starts the auto, pulling away via Mitsubishi’s service area in EV mode.

What’s most striking are the some other noises you can hear without a highly stressed combustion engine roaring away. There’s the whine of the electric motors, squeaks as well as rattles, the sound of the suspension working, the patter of loose gravel on the underside as well as the occasional thump of larger rocks.

the item’s also impressive the way that will the Outlander PHEV gathers extra pace north of around 50mph, after which there’s noticeable extra shove.

Masuoka hooks a wheel into a ditch on the inside of a fast right-hander as well as uses the item to pull the auto around the turn. “No clutch, no gearchange — just steering, acceleration as well as brake,” he says, grinning, as well as then lifts a hand via the steering wheel to briefly tug at the handbrake lever as we slither around a tight right-hander.

The Outlander PHEV lacks the extreme sensory assault of a World Rally Car, although the item feels as quick as a production-spec Group N rally machine. the item’s more cosseting than any some other rally car I’ve experienced, the suspension soaking up the ruts as well as bumps. No wonder the mayor looked impressed.

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