Mitsubishi has teased what appears to be a production version of its XFC small SUV concept, though it’s far from a lock for an Australian launch.
The teaser images show a distinctive headlight assembly closely resembling last year’s XFC concept, as well as speakers for a new Dynamic Sound Yamaha Premium sound system, which promises a “premium, immersive sound experience”.
The as-yet unnamed SUV will be revealed at the Gaikindo Indonesia motor show this August.
“The all-new compact SUV is the first of the new Mitsubishi SUVs to enter the ASEAN market, one of the company’s core business regions,” the company says, noting it has been put through repeated testing and tuning on roads in the region.
Mitsubishi has previously confirmed it will launch the SUV in the region during fiscal year 2023, so sometime between now and February 28, 2024.
Company president and chief executive Takao Kato also said at its reveal last October it plans 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,” he added.
While it looks considerably more modern than the current 2010-vintage ASX, its ASEAN-market focus may mean it won’t offer the levels of safety, refinement or efficiency Australian buyers expect.
Senior executives within Mitsubishi confirmed to Australian media earlier this year the brand still hasn’t decided what path it’ll take with a replacement for the ASX in Australia, or if it will bother with a replacement at all – despite acknowledging the fact even the ageless ASX “can’t last forever”.
The current ASX has been treated to multiple styling and tech updates during its lengthy run, but is now around five years beyond the point most vehicles would be replaced by a ground-up new car.
Asked if there will be a successor to the venerable ASX SUV, executive officer responsible for product at Mitsubishi Motors, Koichi Namiki, told Australian media only that there “could be”.
Were the ASX to be discontinued, the Eclipse Cross (or its replacement, which is coming in at least some parts of the world) would be forced to serve as an entry point to the Mitsubishi SUV range locally. Currently, the ASX outsells it two-to-one.
Namiki-san laid two options for how Mitsubishi could replace the ASX, should it decide to.
The first is developing a take on the production version of the XFC concept for the Australian market.
The second option is sticking the ASX badge on a vehicle from elsewhere in the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, likely the Renault Captur, as Mitsubishi has done in Europe.
The Captur is currently sold in Australia, so it meets local emissions and safety standards, and it’s built in right-hand drive.
The challenge would be convincing Renault to build the rebadged model in sufficient volumes for Australia, as well as getting it to a price point existing ASX buyers would find palatable – or convincing them the new model is worth the extra coin.
The Captur is a fundamentally different vehicle to the current ASX, competing at a different price point. Mitsubishi is inching upmarket with the Outlander SUV, which is bigger and more expensive than the car it replaces, and is likely to do similar when the new Triton launches.
But core to the ASX’s appeal is value. The current range is priced between $23,990 and $34,740 before on-roads, where the Captur kicks off at $31,800 and extends to $41,300 before on-roads.
Mitsubishi has also been burned before with rebadged Renault products in Australia, with the Express – a rebadged Renault Trafic – infamously receiving a zero-star ANCAP rating due to its lack of active safety features.
Regardless which road Mitsubishi takes should it decide to replace the ASX, it’s unlikely the next-generation car will be in Australia any time soon, leaving the existing model to soldier on in the meantime.
Namiki-san wouldn’t confirm when production of the current car is set to end, but did admit head office is “not assuming” there’ll be a gap between the car currently on sale and whatever replaces it in local showrooms.
Mitsubishi doesn’t currently sell the ASX in markets like Indonesia, Thailand and Cambodia, though it remains on price lists in markets like Japan (as the RVR) and North America (as the Outlander Sport).
The company does have one vehicle considerably older than it, however, in Indonesia.
The Colt L300 pickup is a scarcely modernised version of the 1979 L300, sold here in van and people mover form until 1986.
Mitsubishi is no stranger to dragging out model lifecycles in certain markets.
In Taiwan, for example, the 2007-vintage Colt Plus wagon is still available, while a fairly comprehensively updated version of the 2007-vintage Lancer lobbed in 2017.