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Future models - Mitsubishi - Challenger

Exclusive: Mitsubishi Challenger spied in Oz

Challenge accepted: Mitsubishi's next-gen Challenger, spied testing in Adelaide, will get a completely new look that should follow the company's new styling direction.

Next-generation Mitsubishi Challenger off-roader caught testing in Adelaide

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Mitsubishi logo12 Mar 2015

By TIM NICHOLSON

UPDATED: 19/03/2015A HEAVILY disguised version of Mitsubishi's third-generation Challenger SUV has been snapped in Adelaide undergoing testing ahead of its expected debut in late 2015 or early next year.

While Mitsubishi Motors Corporation is yet to officially announce a follow-up to the rugged off-roader that has been around in its current shape since 2008, it is believed the Triton-based Challenger will form part of the car-maker's future line-up.

Spotted by eagle-eyed GoAuto reader James Donovan near the Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited (MMAL) head office in Tonsley Park, Adelaide, this week, it is believed that this is the first time the next Challenger has been caught testing anywhere in the world.

More images, this time snapped by GoAuto contributor Stuart Martin, give a clearer view of the front end of the Challenger, revealing a gaping lower grille and the more modern look to the SUV's face.

The new images also reveal that the Challenger is being benchmarked against the existing version, as well as a Toyota Kluger and a Holden Colorado 7 that is out of shot.

Mitsubishi has previously tested its models Down Under, with a company source telling GoAuto that it sees Australia as an attractive place to test global vehicles because it offers a wide range of conditions in an easily accessible space.

The disguised vehicle is immediately identifiable as the Challenger thanks to rugged four-wheel drive attributes such as large grab-handles in the cabin, a high ground clearance, massive wheel arches and the sheer size of the go-anywhere wagon.

The close-up image of the front quarter hints at an exterior design that is in line with Mitsubishi's next-generation styling language, first seen on the SUV concepts from the 2013 Tokyo motor show that previewed the next ASX and Pajero.

A closer inspection of the front end also reveals that the Challenger carries styling cues from the GR-HEV utility concept from the 2013 Geneva motor show, including the highly swept, slimline headlights and indicators, similar bumper treatment and the deep character line running the length of the vehicle.

That Geneva show concept was said to preview the next-gen Triton, but following its unveiling in December last year, it became clear that Mitsubishi took a more conservative approach with the production version of the workhorse ute as it shared very little with the sleek show car.

The existing Challenger and Triton carry almost identical front-end styling, but it appears Mitsubishi is planning to differentiate the closely related models in their next-generation forms.

The first example of Mitsubishi's new design language will be seen on the heavily facelifted Outlander mid-size SUV that arrives in Australia next month.

Timing for the Challenger is unclear but it will almost certainly beat the next-gen Pajero SUV to market, which is still at least two years away.

Whether it hits showrooms ahead of the second-generation ASX – previewed with more production-ready touches by the 2015 XR-PHEV Geneva show concept – is also unknown.

Powertrain details are still under wraps, but the Challenger could end up with the new 2.4-litre MIVEC turbo-diesel engine that will propel the Triton from May this year.

The current model uses the 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel from the existing Triton, producing 131kW/400Nm in manual guise or 131kW/350Nm for the auto.

When it eventually arrives Down Under, the Challenger will face strong competition in the form of Ford's Australian designed and developed Ranger-based Everest.

As with the current model, it will also face off against the Isuzu MU-X, its mechanically similar cousin, the Holden Colorado 7 and lower-end versions of the Toyota Prado.

Sales of the ageing Challenger dipped last year by 39.3 per cent to 1739 units, beaten by the likes of the MU-X (4625), the Toyota FJ Cruiser (1840) and its off-roader stablemate, the Pajero (5458), but it outsold the Colorado 7 (1508).

Things are looking up for 2015, however, with Challenger sales up by 75 per cent for the first two months of the year to 553, already edging out more mainstream competitors such as the Kia Sorento (537) and the Jeep Wrangler (347).

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