Don't be too sure of that statement. Many of us laugh in the face of a CVT, or even more so at the new WRX CVT, "a rally car with a CVT, the heck you say" this quote was directly taken from one of out more proper commentators. But since announcing it, many have wondered if you can really hoon a car with a CVT? I decided to take up the gauntlet since I am still an aspiring automotive journalist and don't have access to the new WRX like some people here, (Travis, Matt, Raphael, Jason, Patrick, Mate, Michael)! So I got something close to a rally car...ish.
(Full disclosure:Mitsubishi wanted me to drive the new 2014 Outlander Sport so much that I worked for Mitsubishi for a bit and my wife bought one, she liked it so much that she then decided to trade up for this year's model that has the AWD selectable function and heated seats.)
So the Outlander Sport is based actually on the Lancer chassis, thereby giving like all major CUVs a more car like feel. Unlike a car though and more like a proper SUV or truck, it affords the driver with a higher seating position. Personally, I don't actually like being higher up, I prefer to be low down, and planted in a car, "grounded to the ground" if you will. It also may have something to do with me being 6'4" and not liking my head being constantly hit by the roof. Maybe. However, Mitsubishi does give those that like to be the option to move the seat a bit lower by quite a bit. My shoulder in the lowest seating position almost meets the window sill, which is where I like to be.
The Outlander Sport does many, many things wonderfully. It get's great gas mileage. Great safety rating, my wife ask's me when we are picking out car's, "is the car baby safe" for future children, keyword future... I might lose that argument though. It is it's super safe. My only gripe with the entire car would be that the oil drain plug and the transmission drain plug are to close together and are the same style of bolt, which lets just say can be confused with one another. But all these things don't answer the main question of this article, can it hoon?
I decided to find out this last weekend while my wife was at a baby shower. I had the idea for this article for awhile, so I called up my buddy, took the car and camera to an abandoned Best Buy near my house to see whats what.
Traction control off? Check. Simulated manual paddle shift mode? Check. 4Wheel lock? Check. Camera man in position? Check. Time to give the beans!
The car rocketed off with ease, I then threw it into a corner and the back came round, but not as much as I would have liked. Ok, time to try a bit more gusto. Foot flat to the floor, turn the wheel, keep on the gas, keep turning , turn harder!!
Drifting success! There I was with a small CUV with a CVT hooning the crap out of it in the parking lot. Kicking up rooster tails and sliding the hell out of it, even getting the cameraman a bit snowy in the process. The car handled it admirably, it did what it was really never meant to have done. Hoon. This car was designed as a grocery getter for suburban housewives that don't want the size of a full SUV, but still want the high seating and 4WD. I wanted to immediately take it to Dakar, or rather I thought I could take it to Dakar! I was back to being a driving god! The little car was a blast to throw around. The 4WD handles wonderfully, the back end steps out perfectly, the simulated gears definitely help in getting this thing sideways. This experience made me hopeful for the new WRX with a CVT. While I would still recommend getting it in a proper Manual, the CVT depending on how they built it can be a good transmission, maybe I will get to drive it someday, but until then I can pretend that the Outlander Sport is my rally car, and overall the car was a great hoonmobile especially in the snow, but can it be an overall hoonmobile? Next time it takes on mud and dirt and hills! Spring can you come a bit sooner?!
Photo credit to my cameraman Andrew Petrenko who had to deal with my Windows Phone to take the pictures, and to Autoweek for the Subie pic.
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