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Mitsubishi's new SUV challenge

Plugged: New SUV fills the void left by the Challenger in 2006.

Triton-based wagon coming in 2009, but will not carry the Challenger badge

15 Jul 2008

MITSUBISHI is set to return to the same ground it covered with the Challenger SUV, introducing an all-new Triton ute-based medium-sized 4WD wagon in Australia next year.

This time around it is unlikely to wear the Challenger name, but the new SUV will fill the void left by the Challenger when it was discontinued at the end of 2006.

The new model will drop into the Mitsubishi line-up above the Outlander compact SUV and below the larger Pajero.

Like the Challenger, the new vehicle will be based on the Triton one-tonne utility platform, which means a separate chassis, and will be designed to offer extensive off-road capability.

Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited president Robert McEniry told GoAuto last week that it will also give Mitsubishi a chance to take some sales in the healthy mid-size SUV segment.

“It gives us an opportunity to start attacking groups like Kluger, Territory - although Territory is getting pretty old - and Captiva,” he said. “It is a true off-road vehicle. That is the difference versus the others.” Mr McEniry said the he did not believe the vehicle would steal sales from the Pajero.

“I think there is a good opportunity to separate them,” he said. “The engine configuration of the vehicles will help separate them, towing capacity will separate them. So there are a few things that will keep them apart.”

21 center imageLeft: Concept-cX.

Mr McEniry said Mitsubishi was confident there was room for the model in between the Outlander and Pajero, and pointed to Toyota as an example.

“I’m not underestimating the challenge of separation there is a risk of some cannibalisation there,” he said.

“Our trick will be positioning them and hopefully learning some tricks from our big competitor. They’re very good at being able to slot in another one like Kluger with no impact on the other (models in the range).” Mr McEniry expects the new SUV to add valuable sales to the Mitsubishi Australia sales tally, but is expecting less than 1000 sales a month.

There are few other details of the Challenger successor such as engine configurations and exact arrival times.

The new vehicle will be joined by a micro SUV in 2010, which is based on the Concept-cX and will slot in below the Outlander.

“There is definitely a market for the light crossover utility vehicles – Outlander fits into that category and the new one fits below that,” said Mr McEniry. “You have two straddling that segment, which is growing.” In other changes to the Mitsubishi SUV line-up, the company will introduce a diesel version of the Outlander and a facelifted Pajero in September.

With sales of most other Mitsubishi models increasing, Mr McEniry admits the Pajero is one of its vehicles that should be doing better. It is down 664 sales on last year in a segment that has grown significantly.

Mitsubishi is likely to give the revised Pajero more of a marketing push, judging by Mr McEniry’s admission that “I don’t think we have given it a good enough whack on the backside”.

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