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Future models - Mitsubishi - Challenger

Mitsubishi's Kluger Challenger nears

Incoming: All-new Challenger is due Down Under in early 2009.

Mitsubishi will pitch its all-new Challenger SUV as a Kluger and Territory rival

27 Oct 2008

MITSUBISHI Motors Australia Limited (MMAL) has warned that it is ready to throw down a value and fuel-economy gauntlet against the top-selling models in the medium SUV segment – the Ford Territory and Toyota’s Kluger – when it releases the next-generation Challenger.

Due in the first half of next year, the mid-sized five-seater SUV will bring a significant fuel consumption advantage against its firmly established petrol-powered opposition.

This will be in spite of the fact that underneath the Challenger’s new five-door wagon bodystyle is a ladder-chassis construction based on the current-generation ML Triton one-tonne ute.

The engine in question is expected to be Mitsubishi’s 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel, as released in the lower series Triton earlier this year.

This Japanese-built Euro 4 emissions-compliant 2477cc 4D56 DI-D unit delivers 100kW of power at 3800rpm and 314Nm of torque at 2000rpm, as fitted to the Triton.

21 center imageAs per the truck that it is manufactured alongside in Thailand, the Challenger is expected to offer this powerplant with either a five-speed manual or an automatic transmission. Whether the auto will be a four-speed (as in the Triton) or a new five-speed unit is unclear.

In the manual Triton this engine returns 8.5L/100km, and just 9.1L/100km with the automatic. In contrast, both the Territory and Kluger are rated at around 11L/100km.

MMAL may also offer the larger, 118kW/343Nm 3.2-litre four-cylinder DI-D turbo-diesel unit in more expensive Challenger variants for Australia, as it already does in some overseas markets.

This engine debuted in the 2002 NM Pajero, Mitsubishi’s largest SUV it is from another engine family to the 2.5-litre DI-D unit.

MMAL president and CEO Robert McEniry is extremely enthusiastic about the Challenger’s chances in Australia.

“Diesels will play a bigger role in the crossover segment,” he said. “It is part of our mission to reduce fuel consumption and emissions (in that sort of vehicle).

“And the vehicle is positioned in that significant growth (area) of medium SUVs.

“What the Challenger will give is the same town-ride (as models like the Kluger) but with a combination of better (off-road ability).

“It won’t have the same power clearly, towing capacity, and true off-road ability of a Pajero … but (Challenger) will have very credible off-road ability (against Kluger and Territory).

“Our research rated the Challenger extraordinarily high for style, utility and all those sort of things, and so we are very confident that it will do well for us in Australia.” Mr McEniry added that buyers will respond to the Challenger’s price positioning against its rivals. “It will be very keenly priced,” he promised.

The 2009 Challenger will be Mitsubishi’s second attempt at establishing the medium-sized SUV nameplate in Australia.

In 1998 it launched the PA Challenger series – that was also Triton-based – during the infancy of the SUV boom. However, that vehicle was met with a muted consumer response.

During its nine-year run, the Challenger received just one major facelift (in August 2000), and was always available with just one engine choice – a 3.0-litre single overhead cam V6 petrol unit that delivered 136kW and 265Nm.

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