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Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV set for Australasian Safari

Mitsubishi unveils its Outlander PHEV Australasian Safari challenger.

Mitsubishi has revealed its Outlander PHEV entry for this weekend’s Australasian Safari rally in Western Australia, with the Japanese manufacturer claiming the entry as a first for a vehicle of its type.

Prepared by Team Mitsubishi Ralliart Australia and driven by 2008 Targa Tasmania winners Steve Glenney and Bernie Webb, the Outlander PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) will compete in a category created specifically for electric and hybrid vehicles.

To help the PHEV deal with the Safari’s seven stages through tough desert conditions, Team Mitsubishi Ralliart Australia has fitted a roll cage, tougher suspension, increased ride height and special rally tyres.  

However, the Outlander PHEV racer’s dual electric motors and 2.0-litre petrol engine produce the same combined 120kW and 332Nm as in production trim, along with the standard 300-volt lithium-ion battery system.

Former Mitsubishi rally driver Ed Ordynski - who will be providing support to the team during the event - said the characteristics of electric motors may prove advantageous in rallying.

“The high torque characteristic of the electric motors and instant throttle response – which work so effectively in everyday driving – are ideally suited to the demanding driving conditions we’ll experience during the Safari,” he said.

It won’t all be down to the car, however, with Steve Glenney saying those behind the wheel will need to match the Outlander’s sturdiness.

“The Australasian Safari is a notoriously challenging event – its gruelling combination of long straight desert roads, dry creek bed crossings and rocky terrain means drivers and co-drivers need to be both physically and mentally ready for eight full days of competitive driving,” he said.

The 2014 Safari entry builds on the PHEV's pedigree from the 2013 and 2014 Asia Cross Country rallies, which culminated in a class victory in the 2014 event across Thailand and Cambodia.

The 2014 Australasian Safari will run between September 19-27, from Perth to Kalbarri in Western Australia.