Mitsubishi’s Godfather of S-AWC meets an ice track in Quebec

Officially, Kaoru Sawase is an Engineering Fellow with Mitsubishi Motors Corporation in Japan. But the legendary engineer is respectfully referred to as the Godfather of Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC), a tribute to his 36 years of making Mitsubishi vehicles some of the best handling in the world.

For a week in February, the legend visited a purpose-built ice track in Quebec to show journalists from across North America what the latest generation of Super All-Wheel Control is capable of.

Through time behind the wheel of a 2024 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV on the roads of Quebec’s Laurentides region and on a closed ice course at Circuit ICAR in Mirabel, journalists learned the math behind the S-AWC system and how that translates to real-world driving conditions. The Outlander PHEVs they were driving rode on winter-rated tires provided by Yokohama Canada, which partnered with Mitsubishi on the Winter Media Drive program.

“With S-AWC, we strive to make a vehicle that everyone can operate safely with peace of mind, comfort and confidence, driving with pleasure in any weather and road conditions,” said Sawase. “For now, about 80% of experienced drivers fit in the comfortable zone and enjoy driving but unfortunately, it seems like some beginner drivers are not so comfortable on the road.”

The S-AWC system in the 2024 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and across the line-up seamlessly reflects Sawase’s and the engineering team’s goal of making an all-wheel-drive vehicle that responds realistically and effectively to driver inputs while taking into consideration weather and road conditions. The goal is to deliver “critical safety benefits” in a vehicle that responds precisely and predictably to driver inputs, regardless of driving conditions.

No matter what kind of surface you are driving on, Sawase said “the ultimate technology is the one that allows a driver to move the vehicle as they wish. It’s what brings the driver safely back home at the end of the day. I think that is my strongest motivation in my career.”

It has been quite a career. Sawase-san joined Mitsubishi in 1988, right out of university.

“I was very, very happy when I was allowed to join the four-wheel drive development team as soon as I joined the company,” he said in an interview with Mi Magazine in 2023.

As S-AWC continues to evolve, Sawase said the goal is to make a system that allows all drivers to enjoy the experience, or at least drive with confidence.

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