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First published: 14th March 2016

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Mitsubishi plans five new SUVs by 2021

We get the inside story on Mitsubishi's plans for a rapid model expansion over the next five years, with new SUVs, electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids all in the pipeline

First published: 14th March 2016
  • Mitsubishi reveals its expansion plans
  • SUV range to grow, with a pair of new EVs
  • Brand plans to sell 45,000 cars by 2021
Mitsubishi has announced its plan to launch five new SUVs in the next five years and take advantage of the success of the Outlander PHEV – in a bid to reach 45,000 UK sales a year.

This ambitious undertaking is designed to cement the manufacturer’s place as an SUV brand first and foremost; but also help position it alongside Land Rover and push further upmarket.

These five new models will include a new B-SUV to rival the Vauxhall Mokka and Nissan Juke, a larger 4x4 aimed squarely at the Nissan Qashqai, a brand new replacement for the Outlander, plus two different versions of the new Shogun; called Shogun and Shogun Sport.
2015 Mitsubishi XR-PHEV II
2015 Mitsubishi XR-PHEV II
The most important pair of 4x4s in this new model offensive are the two replacements for the aging ASX - one smaller and one larger than the current car, which was revised at the Geneva show. The refreshed model (with new styling and a lifted interior) will remain on sale till 2020.

The larger crossover will arrive first, in 2017, and be offered with a petrol, diesel and (of course) a plug-in hybrid powertrain. The styling will take its cues from the XR-PHEV II concept shown last year. That show car used a small-capacity petrol engine paired up with a 161bhp electric motor, a combination which should give the new car both four-wheel drive and zero-emissions capability combined with very low CO2 emissions – the target is below 40g/km.

UK Managing Director Lance Bradley told Auto Trader “Once you have a PHEV customer they won’t go back to a standard combustion engine” and also revealed that Mitsubishi is planning a split strategy when it comes to electrification, offering its smaller models as pure EVs while continuing to develop its plug-in hybrid technology for use in its larger and heavier vehicles.
2015 Mitsubishi eX-Concept
2015 Mitsubishi eX-Concept
This strategy will be reflected in the 2018 launch of a smaller B-SUV based on the eX Concept. It will become the brand’s first all-electric SUV, and will boast a claimed range of “around 250 miles” enabling it to go further on a single charge than a BMW i3 or the soon to be launched Vauxhall Ampera-e - due out early in 2017.

A conventionally powered petrol or diesel version of the small SUV will be launched around the same time, and Bradley told us that “both two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive versions were being considered” although he also admitted that there was still a job to do convincing some dealers who “traditionally felt that they just won’t sell cars without four-wheel drive”.

Bradley also told us that the next generation of the Mirage – the city car which currently makes up the smallest slice of the Mitsubishi line-up – would also be electric, and the link with the new electric B-SUV would be enough to justify its continued place in the range.

With those new models (plus the all-new Outlander due in 2020) taking care of increasing sales and bringing the brand to a new audience, the new Shogun sport and (eventually) a replacement for the Shogun, are designed to appeal to the core of loyal Mitsubishi buyers who want a smart, but sturdy no-nonsense off-road vehicle with bags of practicality.
2015 Mitsubishi Outlander
2016 Mitsubishi ASX
Mr Bradley told us that these cars will meet the needs of these buyers, but also support the brand’s push upmarket: “They have to look good - that’s absolutely essential - and they have to feel good inside, with high quality materials like the ones we have in the Outlander”.

The Shogun Sport uses the mechanical underpinnings of the L200 pick-up, which should make it fairly handy when it comes to off-roading, but uses a more conventional like body, with a seven seat interior. The powertrain combination of a 2.4-litre diesel engine, with a six-speed manual or the option of an eight-speed automatic, will also be carried over.

The Shogun Sport is currently already on sale in certain parts of the world (under a different name, the Pajero Sport) but it could arrive in UK showrooms as soon as the end of this year. Bradley admits “Our dealers would absolutely love to have it right now – it’s all they ask me about” but at the moment the cars would have to be imported to the UK using single type approval, which takes time and effort, as the company ponders a full European-wide launch.

By 2021, the last car to arrive and complete the new model roster will be the all-new Shogun - but despite this model being the oldest in the line-up, the brand is in no particular rush to replace it, with steady sales numbers that are unlikely to change radically even when the new model arrives, and the biggest growth potential fulfilled by the smaller SUVs.
2017 Shogun Sport
2017 Shogun Sport

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