Mitsubishi will launch a new compact SUV some time between April 2023 and March 2024, and this concept car revealed today clues us in on what to expect.
The Mitsubishi XFC Concept will make its premiere at the Vietnam motor show next week – on the surface an unusual choice to stage a premiere.
However it’s important to keep in mind that Mitsubishi has a focus on Southeast Asia, under the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Alliance ‘leader-follower’ global business model.
It’s understood the road-going version will use a Mitsubishi platform rather than a Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance one, and have a strong focus on ASEAN markets.
“We will launch the new compact SUV sequentially in the ASEAN markets including Vietnam in fiscal year 2023,” said Mitsubishi Motors president and chief executive Takao Kato.
Japan’s fiscal year goes from April 1 to March 31.
The company adds the production version of this XFC Concept will not replace an existing model sold in the ASEAN markets, but rather complement the existing range.
Now, we know what you’re thinking. Surely this previews the new ASX, right? The new European ASX – just a badge-engineered Renault Captur – is off the menu for right-hand drive, after all, so there’s a need for a new model that plays this role.
Moreover the current ASX is not sold in key ASEAN markets – Mitsubishi sells a car called Xpander Cross instead – so the new small SUV could play this role while still being classified as an additional model, not a replacement.
Then there are the quotes from Kato-san.
“In the future, we plan to add an electrified variant to the lineup and to also roll it out in regions outside ASEAN. We hope to grow the model from a vehicle for the ASEAN market to a global strategic vehicle,” added Mr Kato.
Mitsubishi’s second major focus region globally within the Alliance is Oceania, led by Australia, where the ancient ASX remains one of the biggest sellers in the small SUV class but is well past typical retirement age. So we would be the obvious next step.
But hold your horses… Mitsubishi has not confirmed anything along these lines, in fact it’s our understanding that there’s no guarantee that this car will be made to meet Australia’s harsher design and safety standards.
It appears that Mitsubishi Australia might be caught between a rock and a hard place, though there’s little doubt the company’s local arm is pushing hard to get the car here in palatable and appropriate form – even if it won’t admit as much.
The Mitsubishi XFC Concept has headlights that look a bit like its badge, a new take on the company’s Dynamic Shield grille, hexagonal lower running lights, side cameras rather than mirrors, and a chunky yet curvaceous profile.
The distinctive T-shape tail-light signature emphasises the car’s stance, as do the flared rear fenders.
The elegant interior includes a new-design steering wheel with fashionably small centre cap, a large single-frame screen for instruments and multimedia, haptic touchpads to control features, and some almost Scandinavian-inspired trims.
“Despite its compact body size, the Mitsubishi XFC Concept is also designed for utility with ample cargo space,” Mitsubishi adds.
Mitsubishi promises “plenty of ground clearance” and four drive modes called Normal, Wet, Gravel and Mud – suggesting a derivation of its S-AWC all-wheel drive system may feature.
We will be seeking to discover more about what this new concept means for Mitsubishi Australia, but in the meantime the company recently detailed yet another running tweak to the existing ASX range ahead of December launch, detailed here.