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Mitsubishi 380's demise opens door for ZT

Show car: News of partial 380 successor suggests ZT will hit showrooms.

It's the end of the line for the homegrown 380 sedan - but not for large Mitsubishis

11 Feb 2008

A FULLY imported mid-to-large premium sedan will fill part of the gap left in Mitsubishi Motors Australia's line-up following the axing of its homegrown 380 sedan.

One day after announcing the closure of the Adelaide factory that produced the failed model, MMAL president Robert McEniry confirmed last week that the company would source a partial replacement for Australia.

“The type of car that we would bring back into this segment, you will see at the motor shows will be a totally different kind of car: green, diesel, all-wheel-drive - all that sort of thing,” he said.

There is little doubt Mr McEniry is referring to the Concept-ZT, which was revealed at last year’s Tokyo motor show.

The sedan, which is larger than a regular mid-sized vehicle but not quite the size of a Commodore or Falcon, was presented with a diesel engine and an all-wheel-drive system.

Mr McEniry would not discuss details of the future model, or when it may go into production, but suggested the car would be a premium niche vehicle rather a volume-selling budget offering.

21 center imageHe said it was too early to tell how many examples of the new model Mitsubishi Australia could expect to sell, but added the company would be able to react to the market demands.

This is in contrast to building a car locally, which required a large volume of sales to remain viable, regardless of buyer tastes.

“Until I have seen the car, driven the car, had a look at the market and environment I can’t tell what the (potential sales) figure would be, but if the market shifts we have far more flexibility,” Mr McEniry said.

The Concept-ZT in Tokyo featured a 2.2-litre four-cylinder common-rail diesel with piezoelectric injectors and a variable-geometry turbo to deliver 140kW and 400Nm.

It used a twin-clutch automated manual transmission linked to Mitsubishi’s S-AWC all-wheel-drive system.

The concept car also features an aluminum space-frame chassis to save weight, although it is unlikely such a feature would make it into production.

When Mitsubishi presented the vehicle last year at Tokyo, it was very careful to outline that it was only a show car that may never make it into production.

Mitsubishi Motors Corporation president Osamu Masuko told GoAuto: “This is only a concept car. We haven’t decided if we are going to make a large car at all,” he said.

The hints dropped by Mr McEniry last week indicate that Mitsubishi has made a decision to either build a production version of the concept car, or something very much like it.

It is not yet clear whether the production version of the Concept-ZT would be built as a premium model only or whether it would replace the Galant (the US version of the 380) as a range of vehicles that would also include a premium model.

Mitsubishi Australia is also expected to fill part of the gap left by the 380 by offering a version of its Lancer small car with a 2.4-litre engine.

With more torque, the special Lancer would be a premium model and would come with a range of extra equipment.

MMAL would not go into details of the 2.4-litre Lancer and GoAuto understands pricing and an arrival date is yet to be locked in.

Read more:

First look: ZT could be Mitsu 380 successor

Mitsubishi: Slick ZT won't replace 380

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