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Future models - Mitsubishi - 380 - four-cylinder

380 hit for four

Mitsubishi begins four-pot 380 testing, and talks exports with Malaysia's Proton

4 Aug 2006

A FOUR-CYLINDER Mitsubishi 380 model could be released earlier than anticipated in Australia if a deal currently being thrashed out with Malaysian car-maker Proton comes to fruition.

Mitsubishi is believed to be in negotiations with Proton to export its current 380 V6 to Malaysia as a replacement for that brand's Perdana - which is based on the past-generation Mitsubishi Galant and will be discontinued late this year - followed by a four-cylinder version of the 380.

"In some ways the relationship with Proton may boost the opportunity for that," Mitsubishi Australia CEO Robert McEniry told GoAuto last week.

"It wouldn’t necessarily be 100 per cent linked, but it would definitely help ... (but) it’s not an approved program at this stage." Despite Mr McEniry's cautious admission, it's believed Mitsubishi Motors has begun engineering and testing in Japan of a 380 fitted with the company's 2.4-litre MIVEC four-cylinder - the same engine that currently powers Lancer.

However, the next-generation GS Lancer, due on sale in mid-2007, will be powered by an all-new 2.0-litre four, which is part of a new engine family that will also include a redesigned 2.4 for the all-new Outlander and 2.0-litre turbo versions for (Subaru's Impreza WRX rivalling) Lancer Ralliart and the Lancer Evo X aimed at Subaru's WRX STi.

If approved, Australian sales of the four-cylinder 380 are not expected to eventuate until late next year, but some reports have said export numbers could be as high as 15,000 per annum, which would double Mitsubishi Australia's revised domestic annual sales forecast for 380.

The export decision is expected to be made by the end of this year, and could also comprise Completely Knocked Down (CKD) versions if a free-trade agreement between Australia and Malaysia doesn't replace the Asian nation's current tax and import arrangements, which would limit current 380 V6 exports to 1000 per annum.

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