Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia has confirmed that it will be launching its first affordable seven-seater – the Xpander – next year.
Set to go up against the Toyota Rush, Perodua Aruz, and Honda BR-V, the Mitsubishi Xpander uses a similar 1.5-litre capacity engine like its rivals, naturally aspirated.
However the Mitsubishi Xpander’s dated engine (paired to a 4-speed automatic) pushes out just 105 PS, identical to the Toyota Rush and Perodua Aruz but nowhere near the Honda BR-V’s 120 PS, which is still the most powerful in its class.
The powertrain is average at best while cabin materials and design aren’t going to trouble its rivals.
Where the Mitsubishi Xpander stands out (against the Perodua Aruz/Toyota Rush twins) is its passenger car-like monocoque body, which is lighter and therefore burns less fuel than the ladder frame Perodua Aruz/Toyota Rush, as well as offering a more passenger car-like comfortable ride.
Against the Honda BR-V however, the fight is harder, as the BR-V is already the most fuel-efficient in its class and offers the best ride and handling.
Hard to believe, but the BR-V is actually more comfortable than the City, thanks to its wider track and longer wheelbase.
Where the Mitsubishi Xpander holds its ground is inside its practical cabin. Even when compared to the spacious Honda BR-V, the Mitsubishi Xpander’s cabin offers a lot of practical storage bins.
The biggest problem with the Honda BR-V’s otherwise very practical cabin is its lack of centre arm rest and console box, which makes long distance rather uncomfortable. The Mitsubishi Xpander has that covered.
Even the seatback comes with multiple size pockets. Underneath the front passenger’s seat is a storage tray that’s perfect for keeping shoes and hiding other valuables. Behind, the boot has a two-tier boot floor.
There are 12V power sockets, one for each row. No USB behind but with the right adapters, it will do the job. The glovebox also features a two-tier arrangement.
It rides slightly taller than the Honda BR-V, at 205 mm versus the Honda’s 200 mm. Less worries about flash floods.
With a turning radius of 5.2 meter, it betters the Honda when it comes to tight parking and U-turns, but of course, neither front-wheel drive models can match the Toyota Rush/Perodua Aruz, which being rear-wheel drive, naturally has a stronger advantage in this aspect.
Safety features are basic but is on par with the Honda BR-V: two airbags, electronic stability control are included. The Aruz/Rush twins’ six airbags and autonomous emergency braking combo is better.
Prices have yet to be confirmed but we are predicting a circa RM 100,000 range.
The model will be locally-assembled, at contract assembler Tan Chong Motor Assemblies plant in Segambut, which also makes the Mitsubishi ASX (yes it’s still on sale) and Outlander.
As soon as the government get its act together. Like the new Honda Civic (which continues to be delayed) and Mazda CX-8 (which was delayed by almost 6 months), introduction of the Mitsubishi Xpander is hampered by slow approvals by the government.
As a locally-assembled model, the Mitsubishi Xpander qualifies for certain reduction in excise duties, depending on its local content. How much rebate it gets is decided by the government and until Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia gets the necessary approvals, it is unable to confirm the Xpander’s selling price.
Aside from that, the National Automotive Policy, which is supposed to have been announced in 2018, is still pending, and we are only a month away from 2020.
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