Today and Tomorrow: Mini’s Future Is Passionate Owners and a Strong Racing Heritage

Mini Electric Concept
Mini Electric Concept – photo from Mini PR

Mini, the brand that has been an icon of everything that is quintessentially and vibrantly British and youthful, is poised to celebrate 60 in 2019. And doing so by being plugged in to their passionate customers who love driving and winning races.

Mini quickly became the car of choice for rock stars, film personalities as well as royals an common folk alike when it was first introduced in 1959. The little cars caught they eye of racing legend John Cooper whose name has become synonymous with the brand. Who then took the brand on to win many races in the 1960’s. Today not much has changed,

What Makes a Mini?

MINI Manager of Product Planning, Ishaan Khatri speaks to auto journalists in NYC in November of 2018, prior to the LA Auto Show.
MINI Manager of Product Planning, Ishaan Khatri speaks to auto journalists in NYC in November of 2018, prior to the LA Auto Show.

At a recent meeting of automotive journalists in New York City, MINI Manager of Product Planning, Ishaan Khatri shared the five essential elements of what makes a Mini.

Emotional: Mini is not a rational purchase, you buy a Mini for the fun of it.

Excitable: The mini makes people excited and has since it was first introduced as an answer to expensive fuel prices.

Fun to drive: Known for go kart-like handling, Khatri stated that the Countryman is no-doubt the best driving SUV on the market.

Personable: 70% of owners name their Mini and make them an important part of the family.

Customization: Even the banner on the outside of the UK factory says 1 in 800K. Mini has always offered customers a high level of customization for their cars.

Customer Loyalty

Mini Line upMini takes its owners and enthusiasts very seriously, involving them in events like Mini Takes The States, a two-week long driving adventure in the USA each year. This is a chance for members of the Mini Corporate Staff, parts of the racing team, and everyday owners of the vehicles get a chance to enjoy time driving the cars together, as well as getting feedback on new and experimental products.

Racing is Heritage

Luis Perocarpi, team owner of LAP Motorsport talks about winning races with stock Minis.
Luis Perocarpi, team owner of LAP Motorsport talks about winning races with stock Minis.

Mini has taken racing seriously since 1960 when John Cooper first raced one of their cars. Mini has both a Professional race team in the USA, LAP Motorsports as well as supporting owners of its cars  by sponsoring them to take it to the track at SCCA and other ametur events that often lead drivers into a full-time racing career. As Luis Perocarpi, team owner of LAP Motorsport found out after taking delivery right off the dealership floor of a couple of JCWorks cars his team would drive to win. He stated “Mini’s street cars are race cars.”

Perocarpi shared that the best kept secret in the automotive sector is how good the JCWorks factory cars are. That in the short preparation time his race shop had to prepare a couple of Mini’s to get out on the track, he found out they needed little tuning, just roll cages.  Though on their first race, how officials made them remove the stock Brembo brakes from their JCWorks Mini and replace them with brakes from a Mini SE, and they still won the race. Not unlike the middle 1960’s when John Cooper’s Motorsports Team’s Mini was disqualified for having double filament light bulbs.

What’s Next?

Mini made up a prototype of a classic powered by all electric
Mini made up a prototype of a classic powered by all electric. (photo by Mini PR)

Electrification, while the rest of the industry was busy looking at hybrids back in the late 2000’s, Mini in 2009 leased an exclusive Mini-E edition of 500 Mini-E cars to the USA and 40 to the UK. Using that experience, Mini’s owner group, BMW, took this real-world experience and developed the 2012 BMW 1-Series Active-e and the I3 as well as BMW’s I8 super car.

Andrew Cutler, Mini Public Relations Manager with Mini shared that the Mini Countryman PHEV and BMW’s I8 shared similar powertrain components, just inverted, Mini’s PHEV Countryman has the 3-cyl in the front and the

Andrew Cutler, Mini Public Relations Manager spoke of the heritage of Mini and the passion of the owners.
Andrew Cutler, Mini Public Relations Manager spoke of the heritage of Mini and the passion of the owners.

electric motors in the back, with the I8 has the ICE (internal combustion engine) in the back and electric motors in the front, both with AWD when needed.

Expect to see a third generation Mini SE EV, built on BMW’s electric architecture, in production and on sale in 2020.  And yes there already is a John Cooper Works GP Concept out there so expect to see the JCW Performance being powered by electricity as well.

 

 

Special Editions

 

Mini is about to release the JCWorks Black Knight Edition at the LA Auto Show in November 2018.
Mini is about to release the JCWorks Black Knight Edition at the LA Auto Show in November 2018. (photo from Mini PR)

Mini developed to be an urban brand does not take its heritage nor future technology for granted. You will find  that they will continue to build fun to drive vehicles after 60 years and plan to do so in the future. Plus Mini is still offering a manual transmission on their internal combustion powered products, a rarity in today’s automatic world.Mini has found special edition limited production vehicles to be part of its success. The latest, a Black Knight Edition, will be debuting at the 2018 LA Auto Show. A JCW 3-door hard top with- custom trim, handles and black color combination of which 150 examples will make it to the USA, arriving in first quarter 2019. An International Orange and Starlight Edition will join the Black Knight.

And they will never take their customers for granted, continuing with a successful enthusiast programs along with racecar driver training.

 

Words and Images (except where noted) by William West Hopper

 

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The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV The non-status symbol Hybrid – an Outstanding Electric Trekker

Check out our Queer4Cars YouTube Video on the Outlander

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVMitsubishi’s Outlander – Came to market first as a sensible gasoline-powered small SUV Wagon, while pretty vanilla in styling and options, it offers no-nonsense utility with space for gear, cargo and most importantly for many families, the dogs. At the New York International Auto Show in 2016, they launched the PHEV version, which takes this vehicle to another level both as a battery electric hybrid and an all-wheel-drive off-roader.

Much hype has been made by hybrid and EV owners about owning and operating a green vehicle. Somehow, each of them, are single-handedly are saving the planet with their eco-driving habits. Even from the early days, over a decade ago, the hybrid mystic was big. Tax incentives for the purchase and even special commuter lane access, as well as reserved hybrid parking spots and more.

Mitsubishi Outlander 63 cubic Feet of Cargo
Mitsubishi Outlander features 63 + cubic Feet of Cargo

While that is great if you were in need of a 4-door sedan, but what if your life did not make that a practical vehicle for your lifestyle? What if you needed a cargo consuming wagon? Or if you are all about going off the beaten path and wanted to be more off the grid?

 

Until now that was something that was only done by gas or diesel-powered rigs, not hybrids or electrics. The Outlander provides that flexibility with all-wheel-drive, a 74 MPGe, and a 1500 lb towing capacity.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is a very capable PHEV.

Mitsubishi Outlander 2.0 Ltr PHEV Engine
Mitsubishi Outlander 2.0 Ltr gasoline Engine on the PHEV

The Outlander features a highly efficient 2.0-liter gas engine and two high-performance electric motors, front and rear with Mitsubishi’s superior Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC) system. Mitsubishi has provided what has been missing in that equation, a passenger, cargo, and towing vehicle, with 4×4 off-road capability. Perfect for the eco- friendly hikers and campers.

 

Going beyond the Grid

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV features Level 1 & 2 plus DC Fast Charge Ports
Level 1 & 2 plus DC Fast Charge Ports only on the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

Rolling in the Mitsubishi Outlander (we tested a GTS-AWD R version with a $42,185 price tag) PHEV an SUV station wagon with seating for five and space in the way back for 63.3 cubic feet of cargo, which could be, the dog, camping equipment, or what have you.  A hybrid EV that you push a switch to put it into four-wheel drive is something that will be great for those folks that want to adventure off into the wilderness, camping fishing, or hunting.  Connect it to a solar or wind charger while parked, and you have yourself a truly granola vehicle

Mitsubishi Charge Cable Not ReadyThe Outlander PHEV has full-time, twin-electric motors to provide quick and optimized torque distribution powering the 4WD system. The motors are mounted separately at the front and rear axles to deliver precise, responsive 4WD performance with the S-AWC system ensuring excellent driving stability and intuitive, linear handling.

Mitsubishi Outlander Plugin hybrid EVThree drive modes are available: EV (full electric mode), series hybrid (electric power with generator operation) and parallel hybrid (engine power and electric motor assistance). The PHEV system automatically selects the most efficient drive mode given the road conditions and other factors. The system also features a regenerative braking mode, where electricity is captured under braking.

The S-AWC system found on the Outlander PHEV is a specialized application of all-wheel drive from their performance car, the Lancer Evolution.  This Super All-Wheel Control is developed specifically for the Outlander PHEV’s unique twin electric motor configuration for maximum performance, efficiency, traction, and safety.

What we liked

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVOur test vehicle a 2018 Outlander PHEV a GTS-AWD model in R Trim styling, continues to be understated, while practicality and utility are out of this world. Driver comfort and ease of operation are first class.

Driver comfort

Expect a comfortable but taught ride while it may not be as cushy as other upscale vehicles with a $48K price tag, you feel connected to the road surface as you drive.  Outlander provides a command of the road from a well-designed cockpit. Good visibility which is aided by modern tech 360 cameras.

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV CockpitComfortable seats covered in durable and attractive leather. Car upholstery takes a beating. The Outlanders will resist the elements and whatever your kids and pets will pelt it with.

Safety

Advanced safety and convenience features available on Outlander PHEV include multi-around view camera monitor, forward collision mitigation with pedestrian detection capability, blind spot monitoring with rear cross traffic alert (RCTA), and available smartphone integrations including Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™.

Passenger and cargo space

White Mitsubishi Outlander and Blue Subaru OutbackWhile this is not a large vehicle on the outside, interior room is plentiful, with 63 cubic feet of cargo room. It is a nifty little wagon that is a tad bigger than a Subaru Outback, and a tad smaller than a Toyota Rav4.

Mitsubishi Outlander and Toyota RAV4

Power-Inside and Out

Charging both inside and out is well thought out.

Mitsubishi PHEV has two Charge ports for Level 1 & 2 and DC Fast Charging

Outside: You have options at the charger to power the high capacity 12kWh Li-Ion battery pack, as you can plug in the PHEV thorough one of two EV charge ports: for Level 1, 120V home charging, or level 2, 240v as you find at public chargers. What this PHEV has is what you often only find on dedicated EV’s, a DC fast charge port.

Power Outlets on the Mitsubishi Outlander

Inside: plenty of power ports including two 110v outlets with up to 1500 watts of power along with USB outlets make plugging in devices seamless, no matter where you are, or where the Outlander is in the world.

What we did not like – not very much not to like.

What stood out was the tininess sound as the door closed. The Outlander had more than a fair share of warning bells and buzzers. While the controls and displays were simple and easy to use they could be gathered together instead of them spread between the center stack and the center console. The steering felt a bit disconnected on occasion, which was Ok, as no doubt that it was part of the advanced safety system that comes standard on the Outlander.

As a whole, the Outlander provided quite a good experience for our week of driving it. We would say yes to any adventure, on or off road in a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. This un-status brand makes going green the right thing to do.

Other Models from Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross
Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross

While the Outlander comes in a smaller version the Outlander Sport, there is also an Eclipse Cross, as well as the standard gasoline-powered Outlander. Campers, hikers, have had little choice in taking a vehicle into the wilderness, as there was not truly a minimal eco-impact vehicle that was off-road capable.  Mitsubishi has provided what has been missing in the EV equation, a passenger and cargo hauler with 4×4 off-road capability for the eco- friendly off-road enthusiasts.

 

The Language of the Three Diamonds

Mitsubishi three diamondsA Mitsubishi? What’s that? Lost in the influx of imports, the brand came to the US more than three decades ago, with dependable, though boring sedans, for a while they partnered with a previous version of Chrysler Corporation and supplied sporty cars with a price point that attracted younger drivers.  With the age of SUV and Crossover love,

Mitsubishi Mirage G4
Mitsubishi Mirage G4

Mitsubishi has narrowed their USA offerings to a practical line of SUVs and small cars.

The company Mitsubishi goes back into the early 19th century as a shipping company. The name Mitsubishi (三菱) consists of two parts: “mitsu” meaning “three” and “hishi” (which becomes “bishi” under rendaku) meaning “water caltrop” (also called “water chestnut”), and hence “rhombus“, which is reflected in the company’s logo. It is also translated as “three diamonds”.

100K Mile / 10-year Warranty

Car companies do not warrant their vehicles for long periods of time if they don’t build them with longevity in mind. Mitsubishi has a 10-year 100K mile warranty that covers powertrain, PHEV Components, and the LiIon battery, some limitations do apply, as they always do. New vehicle warranty of 5 years 60K, anti-corrosion of 7 years and 5 years of roadside assistance are all included in the Outlander’s warranty.

Offers

As of this writing, you can get zero percent financing for 60 months, a $2k factory rebate, or  $289 per month lease for 36 months with $4,088 down.

And while Mitsubishi dealers are few and far between, with approximately 360 dealers in the USA. They are often part of larger multi-marque dealership organizations, finding that person in the dealership who speaks the Mitsubishi language, is not hard.

 

Mitsubishi provided us with this test vehicle through Drive Shop, a fleet management company. We received no compensation from them for this article, other than the opportunity to experience the Outlander for a week.

Words by William West Hopper. Images from the Mitsubishi Press Office as well as William West Hopper.