Xpander MPV looms as Mitsubishi’s best-seller


Masuko leading the world debut of the Xpander in Indonesia

Photos by Charles E. Buban

Making its world debut at the 2017 Gaikindo Indonesia International Auto Show last week—and proving that compact family-focused multipurpose vehicles (MPVs) don’t have to look boring—is the new Mitsubishi Xpander.

“The Mitsubishi Xpander is set to ‘expand’ MMC’s strong presence in the Indonesian sport utility vehicle and light commercial vehicle markets, further into the booming MPV segments and beyond, throughout the Asean region. We intend to be right at the forefront of this growth,” says Osamu Masuko, MMC CEO, during the unveiling held at the Indonesia Convention Exhibition, BSD City Tangerang, 25 kilometers west of Jakarta.

Masuko says the Xpander will be the first alliance model with Renault-Nissan and aims to produce around 80,000 units per year—20,000 of which for export mainly to other Asean countries.

It will be recalled that Nissan bought last year a controlling stake in Mitsubishi for $2.3 billion.

XM Concept

The Xpander is inspired by the XM Concept presented last year at the same event and it has been designed primarily for emerging markets such as Indonesia, where compact MPVs are hot sellers: of the 1.06 million vehicles sold in Indonesia last year, 44 percent or 467,736 vehicles are MPVs.

“We studied competing brands (Toyota Avanza, Daihatsu Xenia, Suzuki Ertiga and Honda Mobilio were mentioned) and did a year-long interviews with MPV owners here in Indonesia to know their preferences,” recalls Tsunehiro Kunimoto, MMC chief designer who was also at the launch.

When it comes to design, Kunimoto explains owners here in Indonesia—and perhaps, others in the region—prefer strong, reliable engines, and should be easy to maintain and fix. “These features are not so easy to represent in design, but I decided on the design ethos of form-follows-function.”

Moving on

And so, Mitsubishi moves on from its jet-fighter grille to the new “Dynamic Shield,” which debuted on the 2016 Outlander and on the 2016 Geneva and Tokyo concepts. Kunimoto explains the X or anvil shaped front façade is there to remind people of the strength and utility of the Mitsubishi badge.

Surprisingly, the Xpander has retained many of the futuristic lines of the XM Concept.

Just like the XM Concept, the Xpander features front lights that are divided into three layers: the upper layer, featuring a set of slit-like LED daytime running lamps, flank the triple-slat grille. Just below are two huge headlamps that are set deep on both ends of the front bumper, almost touching the wide flared fenders (reminds one of the air intake of the F-22 Raptor jet fighter) while the fog lamps occupy the bottom and third layer of the façade.

The Xpander is powered by a 16-valve 1.5-liter, 105 horsepower gasoline engine

Aside from its exciting fascia, Kunimoto says the Xpander is heavily influenced by its SUV cousins, as evidenced by the deep cuts and creases on the sides as well as the L-shaped taillights and aggressive detailings at the back.

Configurable seats

What will endear the Xpander to its buyers are its configurable seats.

Aside from having the largest cabin space in its segment—providing generous headroom and legroom for all passengers—the seats from the second and third rows can be easily folded down to create a massive large flat cargo area without any bumps or gaps.

The backrests in the second row (60:40 split) and third row (50:50 split) can easily be folded down to arrange the seats and luggage in various combinations. Also, the center backrest of the second row can be folded down to create a wide armrest, or to clear space for extra-long items, like a rolled carpet, or even a ladder.

What MMC engineers did was to also improve the cabin: Mitsubishi says comfort levels are very high thanks to the low noise, plus the large panoramic windshield is made from thick, high-quality, soundproof glass, laminated with an extra sound-absorbing layer.

Passengers should find enough space for their items during a trip, as there are a total of 16 bottle holders located at the dashboard area, the door trims, the center console between the front two seats and rear quarter trims as well as third row side pockets.

Considering the heavy rains and flooding in Indonesia as well as in other Asean region, MMC gave the Xpander a generous 205mm ground clearance that allows the vehicle to be driven with confidence over unpaved roads, and through slightly flooded streets.

MMC designers also inform that the Xpander’s ECU and intake duct is located much higher than its competition while the through-holes in the floor are plugged to resist flood water penetration in the cabin.

The second- and third-row seats are highly configurable

Considering the Xpander is designed primarily to transport people, the body frame of the vehicle employs MMC’s proprietary RISE (Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution) monocoque body structure. It combines efficient energy absorption with high cabin integrity. Airbags for driver and front passenger are standard, along with 3-point seat belts on all seats. Contributing to the vehicle’s excellent safety performance are many active standard safety features, such as brake assist, ABS (Anti-lock Braking System), ASC (Active Stability Control), HSA (Hill Start Assist), and ESS (Emergency Stop Signal system).

Now, if you are one of the eager buyers awaiting the Xpander’s availability here, don’t fret. Production hasn’t even commenced yet in Indonesia where it will be sold first. But once sale starts next month, expect the w

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