Believe it or not, off-roading isn't the sole preserve of lifted Jeeps or mud-splattered Land Rovers.

Mitsubishi has chosen to enter its Outlander Plug-In Hybrid (PHEV) in this year's Asia Cross Country Rally--a grueling event that runs from Thailand to Cambodia over mountains, through forests, across rivers and through swamps.

Surprisingly, Mitsubishi has chosen to leave the Outlander fairly standard--just as it did when entering the event last year.

The model is largely the same as the car already on sale in Japan and Europe and expected in the U.S. later this year.

The electric drive system, battery and 2.0-liter engine are stock, but Mitsubishi's 'S-AWC' integrated vehicle dynamics control system will be tuned for better traction on the varied surfaces of the rally.

A roll cage will also be fitted, while suspension mountings are beefed up to deal with the punishing terrain. The Outlander also sports competition suspension and has a few concessions to lighter weight--a different hood, rear tailgate and the removal of some interior parts.

ALSO READ: Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-In Hybrid: Quick Drive

A skid plate under the car protects all-important drivetrain components from damage. The changes amount to more than last year's attempt, but the car is much closer to its road-going counterpart than any dedicated rally vehicle.

The Asia Cross Country Rally begins August 9, when teams set off from the Thai beach resort of Pattaya. Day two runs from Pattaya to Sakaeo, leg three takes the competitors into Cambodia and past the World Heritage site of Angkor Wat, and eventually ends in Phnom Penh on August 15. In all, competitors will cover 1,367 miles.

Mitsubishi says info gleaned from the rally will go on to assist in future vehicle development.

How relevant Cambodian jungles are to the day-to-day running of a plug-in hybrid crossover are is open to interpretation, but if a clean, green plug-in is up to such a challenge, it bodes well for a lifetime of hard use...


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