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Automaker to launch virtual test drives

Mitsubishi North America is to allow potential buyers to "test drive" its new 2011 Outlander Sport remotely from November 2.

The firm's new "Live Drive" website will allow drivers to remotely control the Outlander SUV within a circuit, "seeing" the course through a camera hooked up to the driver's seat.

The car has been modified with remote drive technology that will enable drivers to control it using the arrow keys on their computers, although GPS devices have also been fitted to ensure that drivers can't stray outside the circuit in South California.

US residents who want to have a go at driving the Outlander remotely can register from October 15 to get 90 seconds with the car between November 2 and November 10 - although participants must be 18 and holds a valid driver's license.

Mitsubishi says that drivers will be able to experience many of the Outlander Sport's deluxe features while performing the test drive, as well as collecting vehicle "features" as a challenge.

The promotion immediately conjures up images of Pierce Brosnan driving Bond's BMW 7-Series using the video screen of his smartphone in Tomorrow Never Dies - and German researchers actually produced a working version using an iPhone and Dodge minivan in 2009 - but Mitsubishi says it's the world's first online test drive of its kind.

The Outlander Sport is released in the US from November priced from $22,995 (€16,500).