Text and photos by Iñigo Roces
Keen to enter the burgeoning small MPV market, Mitsubishi timely took the wraps off its new multi-purpose vehicle at the Gaikindo Indonesia International Auto Show (GIIAS) last week.The new model is called the Xpander, and it is based on the XM Concept that was first revealed during the 2016 GIIAS.
The Xpander has been designed especially for the ASEAN market, combining features like ride height and the styling of an SUV, along with the efficiency and versatility of an MPV.
Like Mitsubishi’s current generation of vehicles, the design of the Xpanderintegrates the Dynamic Shield fascia. It has LED daytime running lamps disguised as headlights, while what appear to be large fog lamps are actually the main headlamps. A scuff plate at the bottom integrates smaller fog lamps.
Like the Montero Sport, it has muscular squared fenders and a distinct character line running along the side. It also sports a ‘floating’ roofling, thanks to black pillars and a cut on the rear pillar.
In spite of its compact size, the Xpander is a versatile seven-seater, arranged in a 2-3-2 layout. Both the middle and third rows can be folded to create a full flat surface for loading cargo. When all the seat backs are up, Ingress and egress into the third row is made easy thanks to the middle row’s tumble forward function.
The Xpander features a straightforward interior,incorporating a sweeping dashboard design. Ahead of the driver is a three-spoke steering wheel with stereo remote controls. In the cluster are two large legible dials with a multi-info display in the center. The center console features a large LCD screen for in-car entertainment and navigation. It also has connectivity with Bluetooth and USB connect. Below it is a simple three-dial climate control system that controls the dual air-conditioning system.
Powering the Xpander is an improved version of the 4A91 1.5-liter four-cylinder DOHC gasoline engine that produces 105 PS and 141 Nm of torque with MIVEC valve timing technology. The engine also has a forged crankshaft, chain case with internal high-rigidity engine mount bracket, aluminum oil pan and an aluminum exhaust manifold cover to reduce noise and vibration. It can be bought with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic that drives the front wheels.
Mitsubishi is positioning the vehicle head-to-head against competitors like the Honda Mobilio, Suzuki Ertiga and the Toyota Avanza. It remains confident it will perform well, having the largest dimensions in its segment, with class-leading interior space and seven seats as standard. It will also have stability control and ABS fitted with certain variants.
“The Mitsubishi Xpander is set to expand MMC’s strong presence in the Indonesian SUV and Light Commercial Vehicle markets further into the booming MPV segments and beyond, throughout the ASEAN region. We intend to be right at the forefront of this growth by expanding customers’ lives,” said Osamu Masuko, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation Chief Executive Officer.
The 2018 Xpander is built at Mitsubishi’s new plant in Bekasi, Indonesia. Mitsubishi has yet to confirm if the Xpander will be offered in other ASEAN markets.