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Tokyo show: Mitsubishi chief confirms all-new SUV

New terrain: Mitsubishi’s eX Concept will provide the inspiration for the company’s next ASX, which is expected around 2018. A slightly bigger all-new SUV will arrive in about 2017.

Another compact SUV is coming from Mitsubishi, along with a fresh ASX

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Mitsubishi logo28 Oct 2015

By RON HAMMERTON in TOKYO

AN ALL-NEW compact SUV is being developed by Mitsubishi to slot in between the ASX and Outlander by about 2017, as part of three-pronged assault on the small-to-medium end of the global crossover market, Mitsubishi Motors president Tetsuro Aikawa revealed at the Tokyo motor show today.

He also confirmed that an ASX replacement – based on the eX Concept revealed by Mitsubishi today at the 2015 Tokyo motor show – is also in the works for launch by no later than 2019.

In all, Mitsubishi is planning to field five SUVs in its line-up, including the Triton-based Pajero Sport that will replace the ancient Challenger late this year, and the full-sized Pajero 4x4 that will soldier on in current form for the foreseeable future.

Although the all-electric eX Concept has fanciful features such as pillarless sides with rear-hinged back doors, the design and size should be taken as a strong clue to the ASX’s new direction.

This means an eX-based ASX will be slightly smaller than the current car, widening the gap between the small ASX and the mid-sized Outlander to provide room for the new, as-yet-unnamed SUV.

The new vehicle is expected to have design links with Mitsubishi’s XR PHEV concept car, which was shown at the Geneva motor show earlier this year.

Both have a strong styling similarity, incorporating the brand’s new ‘dynamic shield’ front treatment.

Mr Aikawa restated Mitsubishi’s position to focus mainly on SUVs and electric vehicles in the future.

He said that, like the Outlander, the new SUV would offer a plug-in hybrid alternative, along with petrol and diesel powertrains.

But he also suggested that the new SUV might be of a different level of specification than a simple step up from an ASX, thus injecting some more variation into the SUV range.

Mr Aikawa hinted that the PHEV would be the performance leader of the new model, using electric power for electric performance.

He declined to be drawn on when a successor for the ageing Pajero large SUV would arrive, saying only that the current model would be around “for some time yet”.

The new Pajero Sport (nee Challenger) will help take up some of that market, but not in Europe, where the truck-based large SUV is becoming an endangered species because of looming new emissions regulations in 2020.

The eX Concept displayed at the show is all-electric, but there was no word from Mr Aikawa on whether such a powertrain was locked in for the vehicle once it was translated into the next ASX.

However, Mitsubishi Motors Australia product planning manager James Tol said Mitsubishi sees EVs as an alternative to petrol propulsion in smaller vehicles, with PHEV likely to be applied to heavy SUVs.

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