Xpander will be worth the wait
Okazaki, Japan—Itching to buy a compact 7-seater multipurpose vehicle (MPV)? Well, don’t scratch that itch just yet.
The Philippine motoring media group just concluded the test drive of the Mitsubishi Xpander at the carmaker’s two-kilometer test track last Oct. 26 here, near Nagoya.
The Xpander—which is set to give the Suzuki Ertiga, Toyota Avanza, and Honda Mobilio a run for their money—was unveiled at the Gaikindo Indonesia International Auto Show just this August, and will be exported in the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam soon.
The export model launch would also include countries like Sri Lanka, Bolivia and Egypt. It was reported that the Indonesia back orders for the Xpander, as of this writing, has been 25,000 units.
The Xpander, designed for families looking for comfortable cabins, versatile seating arrangements, and high ground clearances in their MPVs, combines the utility of an MPV and the toughness and dynamism of an SUV.
Mitsubishi markets it as its “next-generation MPV that will expand your lifestyle,” and backs this claim with the largest body size compared to at least three MPV competitors in the Philippines.
However short each member of the Philippine motoring media got to ride the Xpander, it was enough to make the author feel confident driving the Xpander twice around the 2-km track on a fast clip.
On the change-lane maneuvers and the drive on varying road surfaces and conditions, the Xpander felt sturdy and stable due to the fine-tuned suspension, an inertia valve inherited from the Lancer Evolution, the wide tire tread, long wheelbase, and tough and rigid body.
A video demonstration showed competitor MPVs’ NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) to be more pronounced compared to the new-generation Xpander, which ran calmer and more stable on the same maneuvers and road surfaces.
Engineers also showed the Xpander’s “yaw rate” faring better, while the competitors’ vehicle direction unintentionally swung, requiring corrective understeer.
The driver seats, the elbow room, and legroom felt ideal for this Asian-sized lady driver.
The Xpander boasts of its class-leading body size (overall width is 1,750 mm and length is 4,475 mm).
The exterior of the Xpander looks aggressive, and the interior is spacious. Depending on the preferred seating arrangements, up to seven people can sit inside.
The distinctive “dynamic shield” front forms a continuum with the Outlander PHEV, the Pajero Sport and the Eclipse Cross, and combines bold styling with a visual expression of protected passengers and pedestrians.
At its Indonesian launch, the Xpander demonstrated how it “blends functionality with the adventurous SUV spirit, expanding the MPV’s traditional reach to new horizons.”
This writer’s fearless forecast is that the Xpander will outsell Indonesia once it hits the Philippines.
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