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Mitsubishi Challenger emerges from the shadows

Dark horse: Mitsubishi’s Triton-based Challenger was tested in Australia ahead of its global launch.

New Mitsubishi Challenger warms up for heavy-weight stoush against fresh rivals


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9 Jul 2015

MITSUBISHI’S third-generation Challenger SUV has been teased ahead of its Bangkok debut on August 1 – the same day that the Triton-based wagon goes on sale under Pajero Sport badges in Thailand.

The moody image reveals an Outlander-style “Dynamic Shield” front, with chrome highlights on either side of the grille that, in this case, is expected to be a sporty black honeycomb or mesh arrangement.

Panel similarities with the Triton are obvious, although the chrome-heavy snout of the recently launched light truck looks to have been has been scaled back for the family wagon.

Exports of the rugged 4x4 contender from the Mitsubishi Motors Thailand plant will start later in the year, and, with a bit of luck, Santa will deliver them in time for Christmas. If not, a New Year debut beckons.

Australia is expected to be one of the first major export markets for Challenger outside the ASEAN region, just as it was for the latest Triton launched locally in April.

The short media release accompanying the Challenger teaser shot appears to clear up one point – the vehicle is set to retain the Challenger name after all. The vehicle had previously been referred to as the “Challenger replacement”, seemingly leaving the door open for a change.

However, the release refers to it as the “all-new Challenger”, and points out that the vehicle is known as the Pajero Sport in Thailand and other markets.

As GoAuto reported in March, Mitsubishi engineers tested the vehicle in Australia, with mules spotted around the Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited (MMAL) home base in Adelaide.

Their job done, the engineers have now departed, and it is the turn of the production engineers to crank up manufacturing of Challenger on the same line as the Triton.

The siblings are expected to share the Triton’s 2.4-litre turbo-diesel engine and other underpinnings, although the suspension will most likely be more refined.

The Challenger will go up against a raft of similar ute-based off-road vehicles, including Ford’s upcoming Ranger-derived Everest, the Holden Colorado 7, Isuzu MU-X and Toyota Fortuner.

The Australian-developed Everest will be shown to Australian journalists next month ahead of its local showroom launch later this year, about October.

The new HiLux-based Fortuner, previous generations of which have been a fixture in south-east Asia for some years, will be revealed this month.

Toyota Australia has confirmed the vehicle for this market, no doubt to make sure it has a slice of this growing segment of true offroad-capable vehicles that are priced below its trusty Prado and LandCruiser.

Mitsubishi has chosen the 2015 Bangkok International Grand Motor Sale trade show for the Challenger reveal on August 1.

So far this year, the current Challenger has contributed 1235 sales to MMAL’s tally. That’s up 19.1 per cent on the first six months of last year.

Despite its age, it has outpointed Holden’s Colorado 7 (1232 units), but trails well behind Isuzu’s quiet achiever, the MU-X (3220).

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