Spotted: 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid Caught Naked in Japan

It’s the most popular plug-in vehicle in Europe, outselling the Nissan LEAF electric hatchback, Tesla Model S luxury electric sedan and both the BMW i3 and BMW i3 REx.  It’s also the first plug-in hybrid in the world to offer CHAdeMO DC fast charging capability as standard, allowing drivers to replenish its 12 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack from empty to 80 percent full in 30 minutes.

As this image from Ganbaremmc shows, the Outlander Plug-in Hybrid is identical to its gasoline-powered 2016 model year siblings.

As this image from Ganbaremmc shows, the Outlander Plug-in Hybrid is identical to its gasoline-powered 2016 model year siblings.

We are of course, talking about the Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid, a car that’s proven so popular in Asia, Europe and Australasia that it has helped Mitsubishi achieve one of its most successful years to date driven by rampant demand for the mid-sized plug-in hybrid SUV.

Citing regulatory concerns as well as caution over demand, Mitsubishi North America made the decision not to release its first-generation Outlander Plug-in Hybrid in the U.S., opting instead to wait until the improved 2016 Outlander Plug-in Hybrid — which is based on the on the mid-cycle update to the third-generation Outlander SUV — debuts in Japan later this year.

It would then go on sale in April next year, either as a late 2016 or early 2017 model year car.

To date, we’ve seen little in the way of official shots of this upcoming model, but now, thanks to the GanbareMMC blog over at Japanese-language Livedoor.jp, we’ve been treated to some of the first photographs of the facelifted 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV in the metal, without the usual camouflage that comes with pre-launch vehicles.

The photographs show a fully finished 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV that nicely matches the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Concept-S car we saw towards the end of last year at the 2014 Paris Motor Show. Like the rest of the Outlander family, it features the all-new X-shaped face with narrower wrap-around headlights, chrome-effect v-shaped trim joining the upper and lower grill area, and all-new alloy wheels.

The car pictured also appears to sport a chrome-effect tailgate trim strip and a new lower-bumper chrome effect trim panel in place of the black trim found on existing models.

The design is closely linked to that of the PHEV Concept-S we saw in Paris last fall.

The design is closely linked to that of the PHEV Concept-S we saw in Paris last fall.

We also note that the outlander PHEV trim badge has been swapped from the right side as found on current cars to the left, and the vehicle itself seems to have a lower, sleeker appearance. We’re not sure if that’s due to lowered suspension or slightly larger wheels, but the effect helps to slim down the bulky, almost utilitarian appearance of the 2014-2015 model year cars.

At the moment, Mitsubishi’s official global website still lists the Outlander PHEV in its previous guise, making us wonder quite where the photographer saw this particular refreshed model.

Given Mitsubishi has already started to sell the facelifted gasoline 2016 Outlander in both Japan and the U.S., we even wondered if the photographs actually showed a refreshed 2016 gasoline model wearing PHEV badges — something which would explain the shift from right to left of the tailgate badge. But on closer inspection, we can confirm the presence of both the fuel filler cap on the left-side of the car and the charge port cap on the right-side of the vehicle, confirming that this is indeed the 2016 Outlander plug-in hybrid.

Full specifications for this model haven’t been released, but from past rumors we expect the 2016 Outlander PHEV to feature the same 12 kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery pack, dual motor electric drive and 2.0-litre four-cylinder gasoline engine as its predecessor. That would translate to an all-electric range of around 25 to 30 miles in real-world use, and a fuel efficiency of around 80-90 mpg combined.

Overall, we think the new design is less utilitarian and more sporty than the outgoing design (pictured)

Overall, we think the new design is less utilitarian and more sporty than the outgoing design (pictured)

With these picture snow in the wild, we think it won’t be long before we see official photographs of the U.S. and European-market 2016 Outlander Plug-in Hybrid, so watch this space for more news as we have it.

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  • Richard Glover

    are you able to show us other views please?

  • jeffsongster

    This car and an updated iMiev… with maybe a 24kW battery for a range somewhere over 110 miles would relaunch Mitsubishi in the US as an EV Leader with the likes of Nissan and Tesla. Add CHAdeMO chargers that are publicly available to their dealer network like Nissan did. Promote the cars… integrate the PHEV drivetrain to their other cars and they will be players in the US again.

  • Martin

    My experience is that the Outlander keeps at about 30% SOC and is always within a couple of % when you go to charge and will take 6 to 6.3kWh in 24 or 25 minutes each time it’s connected to the CHAdeMO charger and stops at 80% SOC.

  • Todd Mouth

    I’m sold.
    Where do I sign?