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Paris show: Mitsubishi ups SUV game

Red head: Just a shady profile is all Mitsubishi is willing to reveal about its Ground Tourer concept, ahead of more information and a full look at the Paris motor show.

Ground Tourer Paris show concept pursues PHEV path for Mitsubishi

28 Jun 2016

MITSUBISHI will unveil yet another plug-in hybrid SUV concept at the Paris motor show in September this year, following a shady teaser image of its new Ground Tourer that was released today.

The debut of another conceptual hybrid high-rider is not out of character for the Japanese car-maker and the latest showcar follows a plethora EV and plug-in hybrid SUVs that have been revealed at motor shows over recent years.

It follows in the tyre ruts of the GC-PHEV, XR-PHEV and eX Concept that have been doing the rounds since Mitsubishi changed tack and focused on a future of alternative energy SUVs in 2013.

While all details about the concept including powertrain, dimensions, performance and the possibility of a production version will remain under wraps until the Paris show, a spokesperson for Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited (MMAL) said the concept was another indication of the company's continued focus on plug-in crossovers.

The car-maker describes its Ground Tourer – a play on the automotive industry's widely used Grand Tourer, Gran Turismo and GT monikers – as an SUV coupe although the single teaser image appears to show a vehicle with a level roof line and five doors.

Other details revealed in the profile view include a similar headlight design to the exaggerated and pinned-back lamps that adorn previous concepts, typically infeasible concept car door mirrors and a red-head two-tone roof that leads to a steeply-raked bootlid.

Mitsubishi says its concept is not just showy pumped-up arches and extra ground clearance, but that it has genuine off-road promise combined with a comfortable, high-quality cabin.

“The all-new SUV coupe concept is designed to express functional beauty and Japanese craftsmanship, while featuring Mitsubishi Motors’ flagship plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) technology for effortless cruising on and off the beaten track,” it said in a release confirming the Paris show debut.

“Passengers are accommodated in hushed comfort and the sleek design of its finely crafted interior.”

The reveal of another SUV concept fits Mitsubishi’s previously stated plans to focus on SUV models over passenger cars which has left the future of models such as the ageing Lancer small car and the Mirage micro car hanging in the balance.

Although this could change under its new owner, Renault-Nissan Alliance, which bought a controlling stake in the brand in May following Mitsubishi’s confession that it had deliberately falsified fuel economy figures for 625,000 jointly-developed Mitsubishi and Nissan-badged Japanese-market micro cars.

Following the announcement, Renault-Nissan Alliance chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn said it was likely that future Mitsubishi and Nissan models would be built using shared platforms, leaving the door open for a rebirth of Mitsubishi’s passenger-car line-up.

The XR-PHEV Evolution that broke cover in 2014 is the only Mitsubishi concept of recent years that keeps hopes alive for a high-performance road racer, although that car was confined to a digital world and the Gran Turismo computer game.

Despite the consistency of Mitsubishi's roll-out of SUV concepts, a production version that is closely tied to one of the show cars is yet to materialise, although the company has confirmed that the XR-PHEV II concept that aired in Geneva last year does preview the next ASX crossover.

Elements of the series of concepts have surfaced in some of the company's recent production cars such as Mitsubishi's 'dynamic shield' design language, which is worn by the Outlander and the new Pajero Sport and will feature on the forthcoming facelifted ASX's snout.

Without any indication of the Ground Tourer's size it is impossible to speculate where a production version would be positioned in the range.

With generous proportions, the GC-PHEV concept of 2013 appeared to herald a Pajero replacement, something the company is yet to follow up on, while its XR-PHEV evolved into the XR-PHEV II that will eventually replace the current ASX.

More recently the eX Concept hinted at a pure electric sub-compact SUV when it had its sheets pulled at last year's Tokyo show.

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