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Future models - Mitsubishi - Airtrek - 4WD wagon

Mitsubishi off-roader has an air for adventure

Toned down: Although based on the ASX concept shown at Detroit, the Japan-spec Airtrek features softer, more conservative styling. We will get a more butch version.

Mitsubishi launches its all-new compact off-roader in Japan

21 Jun 2001

MITSUBISHI has launched its all-new Airtek compact off-roader in Japan, but do not expect to see it here until the second half of 2002.

The newcomer is based on the ASX concept displayed at the Detroit motor show, although the Japan-spec vehicle features softer styling and rides on 16-inch wheels rather than the 17-inch rims worn by the former.

A different version that more closely resembles the original concept will be pitched at American and Australian buyers, according to Mitsubishi Motors Australia spokesman Kevin Taylor.

When the vehicle makes its debut here it will join the keenly contested compact four-wheel drive segment currently dominated by the likes of the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Subaru Forester.

Expect pricing to start around $30,000.

In its home market the Airtrek is offered either as a four-wheel drive or front-wheel drive and with the choice of a 2.4-litre GDI (Gasoline Direct Injection) engine or a 2.0-litre multi-point unit.

We will get the four-wheel drive version only although a question mark hangs over which powerplant our version will get as the 2.4-litre GDI engine is unsuited to our lower octane fuel.

Mated to the engine is a conventional five-speed manual transmission or optional INVECS four-speed "manutronic" auto transmission that enables the driver to over-ride the automatic and shift through the gears using a manual gate.

Its four-wheel drive system uses the VCU-fitted centre differential system that has been tried and proven in Mitsubishi's rally-bred Lancer Evolution series.

The suspension set-up is also a familiar one, using MacPherson struts at the front and a multi-link arrangement at the rear - more or less the same as the Lancer.

Mitsubishi says the vehicle's name was "coined from Air and Trek to express the idea of footloose, adventure-filled motoring pleasure".

It offers 195mm of ground clearance, which should endow it with at least a modicum of off-road ability - although statistics indicate most owners of such vehicles rarely venture beyond terrain more arduous than gravel roads.

Available in five-door form only, the newcomer measures 4410mm long, 1750mm wide and 1550mm high. Its wheelbase of 2625mm is claimed to endow it with generous interior space.

The gearshift lever is located at the bottom of the dash centre panel, which creates walk-through access to the rear seats.

It also features a 60/40 split-folding rear seat with central armrest.

The Airtek is equipped with all the safety features one might expect, including Mitsubishi's three-channel, four-sensor anti-lock braking system, which also incorporates electronic brake force distribution.

Dual airbags and seatbelt pretensioners are also expected to be standard.

Up-spec models may be offered with a front sunroof and a glass roof rear panel.

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