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by Tim Beissmann

The Mitsubishi XR-PHEV Vision Gran Turismo has become the newest addition to the growing list of sports cars designed exclusively for the Gran Turismo 6 PlayStation 3 video game.

Mitsubishi says the development of its Vision Gran Turismo model followed the same process of a real-life motorsport vehicle, combining the expertise of the company’s design team, advanced vehicle research and development group, and aerodynamic engineering development group.

The Vision racer takes inspiration from the styling of the Mitsubishi XR-PHEV concept that debuted at last year’s Tokyo motor show. The original show car is understood to preview the design of the next-generation ASX small SUV, though the game car takes on a wider, lower-slung, coupe-like stance.

The car maker describes the front grille as “a study of next-generation Mitsubishi automobiles”. It says car’s overall wedge shape that starts from the brand’s triple-diamond badge is “designed in the image of an athlete at crouching position on a starting line, evoking an intense image of tension and potential”.

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Mitsubishi claims its carbonfibre body leads to reduced weight and increased agility, while its aerodynamic form and aggressive front splitter and rear spoiler and diffuser offer racecar levels of cornering performance.

Power from the racer’s plug-in hybrid drivetrain is sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission to deliver “overwhelming drive performance”.

Mitsubishi hasn’t announced specifications or performance claims of the drive system, though it’s expected to offer more punch than the 100kW 1.1-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine and 120kW electric motor of the XR-PHEV concept.

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The announcement will no doubt leave Mitsubishi fans wanting for a real-life production sports car, though the Japanese manufacturer remains uncommitted to a new performance model.

In November, Mitsubishi managing director of product projects and strategy group Ryugo Nakao told Australia’s automotive media a successor to the ageing Lancer Evolution X was on hold indefinitely, with the brand looking to focus on volume models in the short term.

The Lancer small car on which it’s based is also under a cloud, with Mitsubishi Motors president Osamu Masuko admitting in April a replacement for the eight-year-old small sedan and hatch was yet to be signed off, suggesting it will still be some years away if it makes production at all.

Any successor to the Evo will incorporate some form of electrification – either hybrid or plug-in hybrid technology – and all-wheel drive.

In March, Japanese media reported production of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X would cease in the second half of this year, though a report from Auto Guide in the US suggests the model will live on until at least 2015, with a US spokeswoman confirming “production of North American-specification Lancer Evolution models for the 2015 model year will commence in July 2014”.




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