When Mitsubishi rolled out its latest trio of design concepts in Geneva last March, we were slightly horrified and very shocked. The designs are quite ‘advanced,’ — which is another way of saying they are freakishly ‘out there’ and not exactly attractive on first glance.
But after seeing how this look filtered down to the 2016 Outlander, we are determined to give the new Mitsubishi design style a chance.
And clearly, Mitsubishi believes it is on to something here. The XR-PHEV here became the firm’s Vision Gran Turismo car as an ‘Evolution’ version of this design, so you cannot say this has no future. More than the opposite, in fact. This look is coming on the next Outlander Sport and also on the next Lancer. If there is another Lancer Evolution, it will wear this face too.
So we better learn to like it, or shove off, right?
Let’s look at it angle by angle to dissect what is good and what was so alarming on first sight.
Design Analysis – 2014 Mitsubishi Concept XR-PHEV
Clearly, this nose is the most shocking part of all. We’ve warmed up to the look and it is a ‘grower’ over time. The part that is hardest to digest is the full-frame grille taking over the entire bumper and lower flanks. It looks to be all gloss-black, but the top section is actually tinted glass with grille slats undernieth. The glass portion is where the XR-PHEV has its plug intake, so it flips open.
The giant black section below is overwhelming and can seem clownish with its thick chrome frame. Toning this down for the 2016 Outlander shows the potential of this look in production, and it is actually clean and modern. As it stands here, the black element is helpful at widening the look of the car down below.
Ultra-thin LED lamps up top are a smart and sharp look, extending upward and back over the hood nicely thanks to their small lighting elements not taking much room. The light shape helps reinforce how wide the fenders are, and give the XR-PHEV a far meaner stance than the compact crossovers it will battle as the 2017 Outlander Sport.
In profile, the XR-PHEV is actually damn sexy right as it stands.
The take glasshouse and rising beltline hide the rear doors very effectively, while the deep and sharp point of the front window below the hoodline gives the XR-PHEV a great stance and sportiness. The blacked-out tints of the glass almost perfectly match with the gloss-black A- and B-pillars — hiding any sense of boring production-car traits.
A simple chrome strake atop the glass window-frames lightens the look up top, and helps balance the huge fender flares and somewhat tacky multi-spoke wheels.
In back, we have another very alarming style – at first. The black glass section of the tailgate seems to extend down nearly to the bumper, but only the portion above the horizontal LED brake light bar is the backlight. Below that, a small glass section provides extra visibility out back. All this appears simply jet black from behind, where it also seems relatively flat.
This is a visual trick: the tailgate and giant LED section actually bulged out dramatically, extending the beltline bulges from the profile rearward.
The sharp points of the brake lights in profile define the D-pillar and form a chopped roofline design very slinkily. We are fans of the look in all-black, and see how this might work in a production car as the tailgate cutting a shutline. It definitely feels sporty, and again draws the eye to the ultra-sporty fenders and giant performance rubber below. Subtle exhaust pipes are part of the XR-PHEV’s plug-in hybrid functionality, and the lower bumper is finished in a relatively premium silver gloss.