After putting the rally-bred Evolution nameplate to bed in 2016, Mitsubishi could be set to revive its famous nameplate on one of its most popular models
The new Mitsubishi Outlander is rumoured to spawn a high-performance Evolution variant in 2022 as a new render provides insight into what an Outlander Evo might look like.
Mitsubishi discontinued the Evolution nameplate in 2016 when the Lancer Evolution Final Edition AWD sedan ended production.
The retirement of the Lancer Evo after ten generations left Mitsubishi without a ‘hero’ car, but sources have told Japanese publication Best Car Web that an Outlander Evolution was set to be unveiled at the cancelled Toyota Motor Show in October this year.
Mitsubishi is reported to have rescheduled the reveal of the Outlander Evo for June 2022, and while no performance figures or details have been offered, the Outlander Evolution is said to use a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrain.
While the Evo nameplate is typically associated with the Lancer, it also adorned the Pajero between 1997 and 1999 so its use on an SUV isn’t unprecedented.
However, the existence of a hybrid-powered Evo will be a fundamental change for the Evolution badge.
The Outlander could also be badged under the ‘Ralliart’ brand, that Mitsubishi promised to revive earlier this year, and provide some name recognition to take on inbound rivals such as the Volkswagon Tiguan R and Kia EV6 GT.
While a high-performance model would likely feature higher outputs and chassis tunning, Mitsubishi detailed the fourth-generation Outlander PHEV just last month and the figures were impressive for an otherwise unassuming midsize SUV.
Mitsubishi engineers have made considerable upgrades over the previous generation Outlander PHEV with the electric range now sitting at 87km (WLTP) and the outputs of the front and rear electric motors had been boosted by 40 per cent.
That would put the power output at around 84kW for the front motor and 98kW for the rear, with torque not listed on the previous model – but it would likely be considerable.
The Japanese manufacturer has yet to state what combustion engine it will be paired with but we expect to see an updated version of the 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine found in the previous Outlander PHEV that produced 94kW/199Nm.
If this engine was turbocharged, the Outlander Evolution PHEV could provide an alluring combination of instant electric torque early in the rev range and sustain this performance at higher speeds thanks to the boosted petrol engine.
It is also possible that the heat would be turned up on the Outlander PHEV’s motor outputs to give a possible plug-in Evolution an even swifter turn of speed.
Other performance houses are turning to plug-in hybrid solutions for the next decade of go-fast cars: the next Mercedes-AMG C63 S will shift from a 375kW four-litre twin-turbo V8 to a 480kW two-litre turbo petrol PHEV powertrain.
It’s also worth noting that Mitsubishi engineers have put a significant amount of effort into tuning the all-wheel-drive system of the new-generation Outlander, to allow for better handling in severe weather and off road conditions – using lessons learned from its time competing in the infamous Dakar rally.
While a hybrid midsize SUV may not be the most alluring vehicle for most enthusiasts the idea has caught the attention of many, including Russian media outlet Kolesa who have created a render that takes notes from previous Evolution-badged models.
As an Evolution model, the designer has naturally wrapped the Outlander in a classic red base coat synonymous with Mitsubishi’s performance models and contrasted it with a blacked-out grille, headlight surrounds and roof.
The rendered Outlander Evolution also sits lower than the standard model and on low profile tyres, hinting at its track-focused intentions, while the wheels themselves are borrowed from the Lancer Evolution X.
It’s hard to miss the bonnet scoop up top that would bode well for cooling a turbocharged engine but the design feature has largely been put out to pasture in modern times – save for the exceptions such as the Subaru WRX.
At the rear, the designer has also finished the underside with a set of large chrome exhaust pipes for a more serious look, combined with the spoiler that carries over from the current production model.
While the production will likely differ, it provides an exciting look at what an Outlander Evolution could look like – and could be unveiled in a matter of months if the rumours are true.
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