Auto blogTue, 24 Jun 2014 19:28:00 EST
When we reviewed the 2014 Mitsubishi Mirage a few months ago, we absolutely hated it. Our conclusion was that if you needed a car in this segment to either pay a few hundred dollars more for a Chevy Spark or spend less for an entry-level Nissan Versa. Basically, avoid this Mitsubishi at all costs. It turns out that we weren't the only ones who despised it. Consumer Reports can often find something positive about just about any vehicle, but even the usually gentle publication struggles to find compliments when it comes to the Mirage.
It's most serious gripe concerns the model's handling. CR describes the way that the Mirage wallows around turns with tons of body lean even at low speeds as "scary." A little car with a curb weight of 2,051 pounds just shouldn't corner this poorly.
While Consumer Reports definitely has no love when it comes to the 2014 Mirage, finding something to dislike about practically every aspect of the vehicle from its powertrain to the interior, the reviewers do end up digging out one positive aspect. You'll have to scroll down and watch the video to find out what it is.
Mitsubishi sales continue to show progress in 2014. In fact, sales were up 54.17 percent in the US in May compared to last year. In hopes of keeping those numbers in the black, the Japanese automaker is introducing some mechanical upgrades to the Outlander Sport, its best-selling model, for the 2015 model year.
The biggest change for the 2015 Outlander Sport is its improved CVT that offers better fuel economy. Front-wheel-drive models with the upgraded CVT get an estimated improvement of 1 mile per gallon across the board to 25 mpg city, 32 mpg highway, and 28 mpg combined; all-wheel drive models get an estimated 1 mpg better on the highway and in the combined rating, bringing the numbers up to 24/30/27 mpg. Mitsubishi claims the new transmission is the equivalent of fitting the Outlander Sport with a seven-speed automatic. The five-speed manual is still also available on the front-wheel drive ES trim, rated at 24 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. All models also get electric power steering, and the company reports that the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is enhanced as well, but still makes the same 148 horsepower and 145 pound-feet of torque from last year.
The 2015 Outlander Sport also sees some very minor aesthetic improvements. The audio panel inside now has piano black and silver trim, and the SE trim comes with LED running lights. Also, the interior gets thicker glass in the side windows and more noise insulation for a quieter ride.
Mitsubishi is often derided in the US for its relatively boring lineup, Lancer Evolution aside, but the company is on the upswing worldwide, recently posting record global operating profits. The Japanese automaker may get a further boost in the near future from a rumored pickup truck deal with Fiat.
According to insider sources speaking to Automotive News Europe, Mitsubishi would reportedly build a variant of its widely respected L200 pickup truck for the Fiat Professional brand in Europe and Latin America starting in 2016. The L200 is larger than the Fiat Strada front-wheel-drive pickup already available in those markets, and it's available in rear- and four-wheel-drive configurations. The idea of adding a midsize truck to the commercial lineup was in the Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles five-year plan, but it didn't include any mention of a partnership to build it.
At first blush, the Mitsubishi agreement seems like an odd move, given that Fiat already owns pickup truck specialists Ram. However, according to ANE, the company had at one time planned to use a version of a new Dodge Dakota pickup for duty in Europe and Latin America, but the model never came to fruition.
If it were only so easy for humans. Mitsubishi has extended the life of the Lancer Evolution X by at least a year. An MMNA spokesperson tells AutoGuide that it is "committed to introducing the 2015 model year Lancer Evolution," noting that production for said models will begin in July. This gives us a year of clarity about the future of a model whose future blinks in and out of existence quicker than a boson particle.
As far as we can tell, the Evo as we know it is definitely going to die, the question is when. In March, Mitsubishi said it "does not have any plans to design a successor with the current concept, as a high-performance four-wheel drive gasoline-powered sedan." What is rumored to fill the hole left by the Evo might or might not be a linear descendent, but is expected to be some kind of hybridized high-performance model about which much has been speculated.
MMNA PR manager Alex Fedorak told Autoblog, "Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc. (MMNA) is committed to introducing the 2015 model year Lancer Evolution in the U.S. Production of North American-specification Lancer Evolution models for the 2015 model year will commence in July 2014." Our previous advice still stands, however, even with the extension: If you want one, get an Evo while you can.
Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru, Mitsubishi, Suzuki and Daihatsu have announced an alliance that will see a push to improve fuel economy from both gas-powered and diesel-powered engines by as much as 30 percent before the end of the decade.
The newly assembled Research Association of Automotive Internal Combustion Engines put the roughly $20-million project together, with the Japanese government committing to half the cost while the eight manufacturers will chip in the rest.
According to Automotive News, the automakers will team up and share basic research on internal-combustion engines in a bid to cut costs. Eventually, the results of the research will find its way into a production vehicle, although it's unclear just when we'll see the fruits of this partnership on the road.
It seems every time the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV makes the news the information concerns a delay, and the reason always centers on its batteries. Four months ago the culprit was restricted battery supply from Lithium Energy Japan, pushing the arrival to 2015. This time it's no different, with Automotive News reporting that a battery-related request made by California state regulators will push the Outlander PHEV arrival back to "late 2015 or early 2016."
CA authorities want all plug-in hybrids to be fitted with a monitor for the lithium-ion batteries that will be on the lookout for degradation, the concern being that diminished batteries could change the vehicle's emissions. Getting the technology fitted and tested means something like a 16- to 22-month delay.
The extra time, however, should let Mitsubishi figure out what it's going to do about its battery supply since the current level of 4,000 per month isn't enough to support a US launch; the Automotive News article says Mitsubishi expects a volume of 63,000 plug-ins for 2016. The company hasn't said how it plans to make up the balance.
In the minds of many auto enthusiasts, Mitsubishi has become an afterthought. It has transformed from a company known for its turbocharged, all-wheel-drive rally machines into an automaker with a very boring lineup. Maybe we are being unfair, though. While the company doesn't have much of a performance presence anymore, the Japanese brand is doing quite well financially.
According to Reuters, Mitsubishi Motors had an operating profit of 123.4 billion yen ($1.2 billion) worldwide for the fiscal year that ended in March. That's twice as much as last year and a new all-time record for the Japanese automaker. It's even paying dividends to investors for the first time in 16 years, and its expected profit of 135 billion yen ($1.3 billion) in the new fiscal year matches a goal it had set for itself to achieve two years from now.
The automaker currently focuses much of its efforts on Southeast Asia, which accounts for about a quarter of its sales. It will put even greater attention there in the coming years with more local production, according to Reuters.
We have all manner of unofficial metrics in the auto industry. No doubt you've heard some of them, like the butt dyno. Another popular measure is the smiles-per-dollar index - how entertaining is a car versus its price. Cars like the Mazda MX-5 Miata, Scion FR-S and Mini Cooper S, for example, score quite highly, while vehicles like the BMW M5 or Audi RS7 are great to drive, but score lower because of their much higher price tags. For a long time, the king of the smiles-per-dollar index was arguably the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, which blended hair-raising thrills for the price of a well-equipped Ford Fusion Titanium.
Now, it looks like the Evo will need to hand over its title, as this generation of the rally-derived rocket is likely to be Mitsubishi's last - at least for a while. There's been no mention of just when production of the current car will end, so if you're in the market, we'd suggest trying to find a dealer with inventory ASAP. The news comes from the automaker's Japanese mothership, which says the brand will instead focus on utility vehicles and EVs. While there are no direct plans for a successor, an Evo XI as it were, the door remains open for a different kind of beast, according to Mitsubishi.
"Mitsubishi Motors does not have any plans to design a successor with the current concept, as a high-performance four-wheel drive gasoline-powered sedan," said Namie Koketsu, a spokesperson for Mitsubishi, according to Automotive News. "Mitsubishi Motors will explore the possibilities of high-performance models that incorporate electric vehicle technology."
Mitsubishi has an anniversary to celebrate. It has been selling cars in the UK for the last 40 years, and in recognition it is launching the Lancer Evolution X FQ-440 MR special edition with some real performance upgrades from top aftermarket companies. The models will be limited to 40 units in Frost White and priced at £50,000 each.
The special Evo uses a tweaked ECU to boost power to 440 horsepower and 412 pound-feet of torque with a six-speed, twin-clutch Sports Shift Transmission, and the engine receives a long list of augmentations with an intake, intercooler piping and tubular manifold from Janspeed, plus motorsport-specification, high-flow fuel injectors. To keep up with the acceleration, it gets six-piston front brake calipers and upgraded rear brakes behind 18-inch BBS forged alloy wheels. The suspension is lowered by 35 millimeters (1.378 inches) in the front and 30mm (1.181 inches) in the rear with Eibach coil springs.
The interior gets improvements to fit the performance upgrades. Leather-covered Recaro seats are found up front, along with an eight-speaker, Rockford Fosgate audio setup complete with a subwoofer. Navigation is standard with a seven-inch LCD touchscreen. The special edition definitely won't be making it to the US, but it's nice to see Mitsubishi commemorating itself with a performance model. Scroll down to get the full specs in the press release.
Sometimes you stumble upon something online that is so incredibly, bad that there is actually something great about. With that in mind, Southside Mitsubishi in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, might have created one of the worst/best automotive raps we've ever seen.
While there is no way the dealership went into this video thinking it would actually be good, it's hard to imagine it could have ended up so incredibly cheesy. Whether it's the frontman who looks like Vladimir Putin on his worst day ever, the extras who clearly don't want to be there or the inexplicable reference to that Baha Men classic, "Who Let The Dogs Out?" this video is a black hole of suffering - there is no escape. We knew things were bad at Mitsubishi, and man, this isn't helping.
Scroll down to inflict this awful awesomeness on yourself, and remind yourself of the infamous Swagger Wagon from Toyota to see that not all ironic automotive rapping has to be painful.