Hybrids are unquestionably here to stay in the world of motorsports. From the KERS systems used in Formula 1 to the hybrid race cars that have won the last 4 years in a row at Le Mans, hybrid technology has proven very useful for going fast. But plug-in cars haven’t quite so readily adopted for racing, as limited range and long charging times make them of limited use. But Mitsubishi is really determined to make the idea work with its rally car based on the Outlander plug-in hybrid. The car has been racing for a while, but Mitsubishi made some changes to it ahead of the Baja Portalegre 500 race.

Mitsubishi has even enlisted the help of two-time Dakar winner Hiroshi Masuoka. So if anybody can make the car a success, it’s him. Masuoka is also serving as team captain, and as a co-driver he has Pascal Maimon, who also did co-driver duty when Masuoka won the 2002 Dakar Rally. The car has competed in the Asia Cross Country Rally for the last three years, alongside a number of more traditional off-roaders made by Mitsubishi, such as the Triton and the Pajero, but this will be its first time at the Baja Portalegre 500.

Continue reading to learn more about the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Baja Race Car.

  • 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Baja Race Car
  • Year:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • 0-60 time:
    5 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    155 mph (Est.)
  • car segment:
  • body style:


2016 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Baja Race Car High Resolution Exterior
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The race car is based on the production version of the Outlander PHEV, and this is all done to drum up publicity for the production car as a viable choice of plug-in, the appearance of the vehicle has been changed as little as possible. It’s wearing a livery for the race, of course, and it has big off-road tires as well. The suspension has been beefed up and raised to give it more travel, and the wheel arches have been extended to make the wheels fit.

There is also a large single Evo VIII/IX-style hood vent, but the rest of the bodywork has been left alone. All told, if there were a factory Outlander Evo (and it has been rumored that Mitsubishi is planning to do just that with the next generation of the vehicle), you can imagine that would look pretty much just like this.


2016 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Baja Race Car High Resolution Exterior
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This is one of the more entertaining parts of the race car. There are a lot of the sort of modification that would expect to see in a race car, such as a roll cage and a racing wheel. The carpet has been ripped out and so have all of the seats, with a pair of Recaro buckets being substituted for both the driver and navigator. But the dash has been left stock, so the infotainment system is still there, as well as the climate controls, and the car is even still using the stock gauges. The door panels, with the power lock and window controls are still there, and so is the center console and all of the cup holders.


2016 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Baja Race Car High Resolution Exterior
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The Outlander has received a number of changes, not only from the stock version of the vehicle, but also from previous versions of the race car. The race car, just like the road-going version, has electric motors to send power to the wheels, while a gasoline engine attached to a generator produces electricity when the battery gets depleted. The power output of the motors has been turned up for the race car, and the car has also therefore gotten a bigger generator.

The race car, just like the road-going version, has electric motors to send power to the wheels

There is a bigger drive battery as well, although it isn’t entirely clear whether or not the vehicle gets plugged in at all anymore. The road-going version of the car has an electric-only range of just 32.5 miles, and even with a bigger battery, it will be drained a lot faster when racing, long before the car is anywhere near the end of the stage. So do they even bother plugging it in at this point? We couldn’t say for sure, and it’s not as though there are any other plug-in hybrid rally cars to compare it to.


Honda Insight Hybrid Rally Car By Oaktec

2011 Honda Insight Hybrid Rally Car by Oaktec Exterior
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There really aren’t any plug-in hybrid rally racer to compare the Outlander to, which is sort of the point. But there have been a couple of “traditional” hybrids built for rallying, including this unassuming-looking Insight. This was the hybrid rally racer that was famously kicked out of the Formula 1000 rally championship for being “too fast” back in 2011. Like Mitsubishi, Oaktec took a chance on technology that had never been used in the series before. But it worked a little too well in this case and they got the boot.

Read our full review here.

Citroen C4 Hybrid WRC

2008 Citroen C4 WRC HYmotion4
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Citroen was the first manufacturer to look into the possibility of making a hybrid rally car back in 2009. At that time, Sebastien Loeb was king of WRC, and he ruled from a Citroen-built throne. So the C4 Hybrid car was just a hybridized version of the car that was the current WRC champ. It never actually raced, and Peugeot soon switched to the DS3 anyway, but it was an interesting idea for a little while there.

Read our full review in here.


2016 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Baja Race Car High Resolution Exterior
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Assuming that the Mitsubishi team intend to plug the car in and start off the rally stages with a full battery, the Baja Portalegre 500 rally is a much more suitable place for it race than the Asia Cross Country Rally. Not only is the rally itself much shorter, but the stages are as well, allowing for the car to fully recharge overnight. Mitsubishis are a common sight at both events, but it seems that this one is better suited to a plug-in vehicle, and hopefully this means we’ll be seeing some better results from the Outlander PHEV.

  • Leave it
    • Long distances seem to render the plug-in aspect irrelevant
    • Mitsubishi already has a much better rally car
    • Exactly 0 people have ever bought an Outlander PHEV to go off-roading

Press Release

The Baja Portalegre 500 cross-country rally is being held in the Portalegre municipality of the Alentejo region in the eastern part of Portugal, near the Spanish border. Organised by the Portuguese Automobile Association, official competition vehicle inspections took place on Thursday this week ahead of the rally beginning. The Outlander plug-in hybrid EV (PHEV), Mitsubishi Motors’ rally car, passed without any problems and is the only entrant in the newly-established TE class [1].

2016 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Baja Race Car High Resolution Exterior
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Mitsubishi Motors’ staff member Hiroshi Masuoka is driving the Outlander PHEV. He was a two-time winner of the world’s toughest race, the Dakar Rally, in 2002 and 2003. The Japanese national is also serving as the Team Captain in Portugal. His co-driver is Frenchman Pascal Maimon, with whom Masuoka won his first Dakar in 2002. Providing technical support is Technical Director Yasuo Tanaka of the MMC EV Component Research Department. Four staff members from the same department are serving as engineers. The rally team is aiming to extract the full potential from the Outlander PHEV to complete the rally and finish amongst the top teams.

The 29th edition of the Baja Portalegre 500 has attracted a total of 312 entrants, consisting of 92 automobiles, 37 buggies, 80 motorbikes and 34 quads. In addition, 69 competitors were entered in a promotional category for bikes, buggies and quads. The event also constitutes the 10th and final round of the FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup. For that reason, privateer teams from Portugal have been joined by several of the leading off-road drivers who are scheduled to enter the Dakar Rally in January 2016. Celebrating its 30th anniversary next year, the Baja Portalegre 500 has returned to its traditional format of being fought out over two legs: Leg one takes place on October 23rd and offers 90.52 km of special stages and 77.78 km of road liaison in a total route of 168.30 km. The second leg on October 24th comprises 350km of special stages and 151.96km of road liaison in a total of 501.96 km.

2016 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Baja Race Car High Resolution Exterior
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The Outlander PHEV rally car is based on the production model but has been modified to comply with race regulations. It uses the main components of the production model’s PHEV system, but with changes made to the control systems for the rally. The front and rear electric motors deliver more power, the petrol engine has a higher RPM, the drive battery is larger in capacity and the generator produces more electric power to provide higher overall performance. Increased traction is made possible via changes to the control system governing the Twin Motor 4WD system, which utilises know-how built up through the S-AWC integrated vehicle dynamics control system employed in the Lancer Evolution series. Ground clearance and suspension stroke have been increased and the use of larger rally tyres have improved off-road performance. This enables the driver to extract the full potential of the up-rated performance of the PHEV and Twin Motor 4WD systems.

Team Mitsubishi Motors arrived in Portugal on October 18 and finalised the rally car set-up the next day at MBP Automóveis Portugal S. A., the company’s Portuguese distributor. On October 20, the rally car was moved to an off-road course, near the village of Santa Margarida do Sado, located around 120km southeast of Lisbon. A preliminary ’shakedown’ test was carried out to double-check the rally car’s configuration and Twin Motor 4WD/S-AWC control systems. The suspension and other chassis component set-up were also checked to make sure everything was ready for the rally. The team also made some modifications to the electronic management system after the shakedown test.

2016 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Baja Race Car High Resolution Exterior
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A Word from Hiroshi Masuoka - Team Captain & Driver

"I’ve really been looking forward to driving the Outlander PHEV in the Baja Portalegre 500 alongside several of the drivers who will be competing in the next Dakar Rally. With some shakedown tests in Japan and one in Portugal, I’ve been able to affirm the Outlander PHEV’s potential. Basically, we will be driving in series EV mode with the engine serving as a generator, while the car is driven by the electric motors. The electric motors’ smooth and powerful acceleration makes for easier acceleration control, as there is no need to concentrate on shifting gears so I can focus on acceleration. The real thrill of driving the Outlander PHEV is the energy management only an electric-powered vehicle can provide. I’m keen to show the Outlander PHEV’s true performance potential in the field of rallying."

A Word from Yasuo Tanaka - Technical Director

"We have provided technical support to the team’s Outlander PHEV in the Asia Cross-Country Rally (AXCR) for three years now. The Outlander PHEV we are entering in the Baja Portalegre 500 is basically the same as the one that competed in the AXCR in August. This time, however, we were able to do some fine-tuning to the rally car and match the characteristics of the Baja Portalegre 500 by exploiting the knowhow we acquired through our technical assistance during the AXCR.

The PHEV system components that have been updated for the rally, including the engine generator, faster charging speed and increased electric motor power output, are not just for improving the rally car for the race, but we are also using the race to find technologies we could apply to improve the performance of production vehicles. If applied to the production model, these modifications will see an improvement in vehicle performance. By identifying and overcoming a number of issues in continuous to-the-limit driving in rallies, we are aiming to enhance technologies that raise the performance and quality of EV/PHEVs in the near future."

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