Story & photos by Ronald Rey M. de los Reyes
THE automotive industry, in fact, may be at a high last year wherein sales were skyrocketing—even widely unprecedented. Sadly, the story for 2018 is not as effervescent as most predict as dreadfully flat growth, mainly because of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion law’s advent.
However, this might not be the case for Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp. (MMPC), which took a valiant stand with the launch of the all-new seven-seater multipurpose vehicle Xpander recently at the World Trade Center in Pasay City. With such, this writer witnessed how the automaker remained adamant despite the odds.
“Even with the new imposed excise tax, we at MMPC are still optimistic that growth and demand for new vehicles will continue,” averred MMPC President Mutsuhiro Oshikiri in an open parley with the media.
“We are challenging ourselves to sell over 80,000 units and still see another record-breaking sales in 2018, which will be led by the all-new Mitsubishi Xpander,” he added.
MMPC recorded its highest sales record of 73,590 units last year with a 15.5-percent market share, second only to Toyota’s 183,908 units (38.9 percent), and notches above Hyundai’s third spot with 37,678 (8 percent).
Oshikiri said they still get to improve their market share primarily because of the government’s various infrastructure projects and mobilization opportunities, which are always in conjunction with the industry’s progress. Not to mention that with the country’s more than 100 million people, there will always be the need for a reliable transporter.
No less than Indonesia-based Mitsubishi Motors Corp.’s (MMC) Vice President for Design Tsunehiro Kunimoto and Chief Product Specialist Takaaki Kishii graced the event and gave us the real deal about the all-new Xpander.
Kunimoto, for one, shared about the vehicle’s design philosophies and its relation to the company’s long rich heritage, while Kishii, for his part, discussed the overall concept behind the Xpander.
“When we started the project four years ago, we knew what the market wanted and what they needed,”Kishii enthused.
According to him, the target customers of the Xpander are primarily aged 30s to 40s with young families having their own common prerequisites for their ideal car, such as a comfortable cabin even with many passengers, high ground clearance and various seat arrangements.
The result of the conducted survey revealed three common emotional values that then produced three key elements of a class-leading body size, notable exterior and interior, and superior dynamic driving performance.
Thus, the Xpander, as proof, measures 4,475 millimeters (mm) long, 1,750 mm wide and 1,700 mm tall with a class-leading easy third-row access of 1,105 mm (opening height) and 445 mm (opening width). It stands with over 200 mm of ground clearance.
This crossover sport-utility vehicle remains faithful to the XM Concept with its front fascia bearing the brand’s signature “Dynamic Shield” grille complemented by its high-mounted slim daytime running lights. It’s also marked by two bold character lines running through the door handles, while the rear leaves one a distinct view of an L-shaped pillar-mounted taillights. Tough and stylish from the outside as its other siblings in the stable, this stunner reminds one of a baby Montero. Four trims are available, namely, the GLX M/T, GLX Premium A/T, GLS and GLS Sport.
Inside, it boasts roominess and utility deriving from the Japanese concept of Omotenashi, or “attention to details.” As from the outside, it also replicates the idea of interior-design identities of horizontal axis mated with that unique Mitsubishi touch and visible functionality. Thus, with a total cabin length of 2,840 mm and width of 1,410 mm, the Xpander provides comfortable seating for a maximum of seven adults. Not to mention, it is the first in its segment to feature fold-flat seating for the third row. Also, road noise is also taken cared of with its thick front/rear windshield glass (4 mm/3.5 mm).
Bringing this beast to life is a 1.5L 4A91 Mivec DOHC 16-valve engine, which gives a maximum output of 105 PS at 6,000 rpm and maximum torque of 141 Nm at 4,000 rpm. Power is sent to the front wheels and can be specified with either a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. Xpanders also offer hill start assist and active stability control.
The 2018 Mitsubishi Xpander is priced as follows: GLX M/T P885,000; GLX Premium A/T P960,000; GLS A/T P995,000 and GLS Sport A/T P1.060 million.
Oshikiri said, “This vehicle is sure to be another great success. But just don’t take my word for it.”
As he chuckled with the next few words, he confidently stated that in Indonesia (wherein the Xpander is being manufactured), there are about 50,000 to 60,000 reservations already being garnered. With the said tremendous demand, operations there have actually added another shift just to accommodate everything.
“We will have the same success here, as what they are currently experiencing there.”
And that, indeed, is exciting to see slowly take fold.