Remember Mirage? Who hasn’t had one of Mitsubishi’s hugely popular 5-door hatches in the family at some time or other?
Despite its absence from new-car listings since the eighties many warmly remember the car for its easy-driving, affordable, pile-it-all-in-the-back motoring. Now, Mirage is poised to make a comeback: still a compact yet roomy city/suburban 5-seater but strikingly styled and equipped with green, high-efficiency technology that promises a startling leap forward in fuel economy.
At the 30 November opening of the Tokyo Motor Show Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) is expected to announce the Mirage as its new “global small” car. First sales will be in March, in Thailand, and the car is likely to arrive here later next year or early 2013.
Details of New Zealand’s likely Mirage range are sketchy as yet, though Mitsubishi’s sales and marketing strategy head Daniel Cook says we can expect the new hatchback to be exceptionally well priced and “stunningly” efficient. “Fuel economy likely to be best-in-class: we’re hearing numbers like 4 litres per 100km, or 83 miles per gallon. Emissions will be proportionately very low, too”.
The new Mirage, similar in size to the current Mitsubishi Colt, will be driven by a high-power 1.2 litre MIVEC engine, with CVT auto transmission and Mitsubishi’s fuel-saving Auto Stop and Go idle-stop technology. Other contributions to fuel economy will come, says Cook, from painstakingly trimming weight from almost every part of the car, plus reductions in rolling resistance from the running gear, brakes and tyres and the drag-reducing body aerodynamics.
“Apart from being a great-looking and highly practical family car the new Mirage will give its owner a good measure of protection against future fuel price rises”, Cook says. “At today’s fuel prices it promises an Auckland-Wellington-Auckland drive for about $90”.
Outlander-size plug-in hybrid concept has 800 km range
At the Tokyo Show Mitsubishi will also unveil version two of its Outlander-size Concept PX-MiEV SUV. This is Mitsubishi Motors’ idea for a mid-size plug-in hybrid (PHEV) that uses existing state-of-the-art technology to deliver, on one hand, EV environmental performance and quietness, and on the other, SUV comfort and long cruising range.
To achieve this, MMC’s unique plug-in hybrid system fuses i-MiEV-derived EV technology with a compact, high efficiency 2-litre 70kW MIVEC petrol engine. This combination provides not only an estimated fuel efficiency of 1.7 litres per 100km, far ahead of a conventional SUV, but also a cruising range of over 800 km.
However, in most everyday situations it can be driven in all-electric mode alone, with its high-capacity batteries providing power to cover 50 km.
Depending on power consumption and remaining battery charge the system starts the petrol engine automatically as a generator, using the engine to help drive the wheels as necessary. At any time the driver has push-button freedom to select EV power only - for example, in order to drive quietly and emissions-free (at sufficient battery levels) in residential areas - or switch the engine to generator mode to charge the batteries.
The Concept’s drivetrain uses a new twin-motor 4WD system mated to Mitsubishi’s S-AWC (Super-All Wheel Control) advanced traction control system, based on technology honed in the Lancer Evolution X. As well as great handling, the Concept PX-MiEV II has the acceleration of a 3.0-litre V6, released by the 100% instant off-the-line torque inherent in its two 60kW permanent magnet synchronous electric motors.
Mitsubishi’s EV minicab quick off the rank
Also at the Tokyo show will be Mitsubishi’s second mass-produced EV - the MINICAB-MiEV light commercial commuter vehicle of the kind commonly used in Japan for transporting small passenger groups in urban areas - and the now-familiar i-MiEV electric car, currently on sale here in New Zealand (and in most of the world) and shortly to roll out in the United States.
Power sharing: smart car, smart house
Mitsubishi will also feature the MiEV House, a “smart house” concept that tackles energy and global warming issues by managing energy useage between the home itself, “smart appliances”, EVs/plug-in hybrid vehicles and “smart grids” - all at the same time. It does this through the HEMS Home Energy Management System and MMC’s own EIS (Electric Vehicle Integration System). HEMS constantly compares the power that’s available with the power being used, optimizing both to reduce the effects of energy shortages and energy costs. EIS monitors the electric vehicle’s battery useage and efficiency (which varies depending on how it is driven) and HEMS uses this information to optimize charging from the house, so the electric vehicle is always topped up.
*Visitors to Mitsubishi’s Toyko Motor Show stand can even get an EV coffee. An i-MiEV vehicle parked beside the stand’s “MiEV Café” will feed through 1500 W to power the barista’s espresso machine.