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Mitsubishi unveils its future in LA: the XR-PHEV plug-in hybrid

Despite its problems, Mitsubishi is not going gently into that good night. The Japanese automaker’s newly unveiled XR-PHEV concept shows that Mitsubishi is still fighting.  This impressive piece of kit hopes to balance the companies EVO performance expertise with its innovations from the MiEV electric car to create a whole new look for the company.

We have already seen images of the XR-PHEV’s  styling, so the real news for the car is related to its powertrain. The crossover coupe will be, in-essence, a plugin hybrid. The front wheels will be driven by a 1.1-liter inline 3-cylinder turbo, that can put out 134 horsepower. That is a better power to displacement ratio than a brand-new Corvette. Complementing the feisty gas engine will be a compact electric motor that can deliver another 161 horsepower.

The combined 294 horsepower could be enough to give the XR-PHEV some real performance. In practice that will depend greatly on how much the car ends up weighing, which Mitsubishi hasn’t revealed. Hopefully the 14 kilowatt-hour (kWh) lithium ion battery back won’t hold the car back.

Still, at least the car should be very efficient. Mitsubishi reports a EV only range of 53 miles and better than 65 mpg in hybrid mode. That is impressive for what should be a spacious crossover.

But the powertrain is only half the story. Mitsubishi has crammed the XR-PHEV, at least in theory, with new tech. Perhaps the most interesting feature is the AR Windshield, which sadly isn’t some new kind of assault rifle, but instead stands for Augmented Reality. Following in line with the innovations unveiled by Jaguar-Land Rover, this system can display distances to the vehicle ahead, navigation directions, and highlight vehicles or pedestrians in the path of travel.

Related: Volvo and Ericsson partner on connected cars.

In fact the AR windshield will be at the center of a suite of new, at least to Mitsubishi, connected services. While Mitsubishi hopes to introduce a whole suite of services, a few caught our eye. The most exciting of which would be the XR-PHEV’s ability to communicate not just with the car’s around it, but also the traffic infrastructure itself. For example, the car’s Cooperative Adaptive Cruise Control could look ahead to see the status of lights and traffic and plan acceleration and deceleration with the car’s around it to make the most efficient use of space.

While this sort of technology requires more than just building one new car, it is exciting to see that Mitsubishi has ambitious plans for the future. The XR-PHEV is just such an ambitious project, and one that deserves to be built. Hopefully, Mitsubishi remains committed enough to the market that it happens.