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by Tim Beissmann

The Mitsubishi Global Small Concept has been officially unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, providing a preview of the Japanese brand’s upcoming international B-segment fighter.

Mitsubishi Australia will introduce the production version of the Global Small Concept either in late-2012 or early in 2013, with that vehicle likely to replace the slow-selling Colt light car.

Production is scheduled to start at an all-new factory in Thailand – Mitsubishi’s third plant in the Southeast Asian hub – in March 2012.

The new Mitsubishi light car will be unveiled in production form towards the end of this year.

The Global Small Concept will aim to meet the demands of two of the world’s largest markets. It will be offered as an entry-level vehicle in developing countries, including China and India, which are expected to make up 50 percent of the world’s new vehicle market by 2013 as demand rises for personal mobility through affordable vehicles.

It will also be sold in established automotive markets (like Australia, Europe, Japan and North America) as a better-equipped fuel-efficient compact city car that meets increasingly stringent environmental regulations and downsizing trends.

The plain and simple styling is a result of Mitsubishi trying to make the vehicle as inoffensive as possible and satisfy the tastes of all of its target markets. While the Global Small is unlikely to make too many enemies, its soft styling lacks the usual Mitsubishi emotion, and as a result may fail to engage with consumers and become lost among the myriad light and small cars on sale around the world.

The Global Small Concept is 3740mm long, 1680mm wide and 1490mm tall, which makes it slightly larger than the Fiat 500.

It will be powered by two all-new 1.0- and 1.2-litre petrol engines. Fuel consumption and emissions will be kept down through the implementation of Auto Stop and Go, brake energy regeneration, weight-saving measures and fine-tuned aerodynamics.

A fully electric variant will also be offered, promising zero tailpipe emissions.

Mitsubishi says the Global Small will be more than just an entry-level city car, and promises “a daily reliable runabout equally at ease crossing the bush, tackling megapole traffic or blasting highways”.

Production at the new Laem Chabang Industrial Estate in Thailand is forecast to start at 150,000 units per year, with the potential to increase to 200,000.

More details of the 2012 Mitsubishi Global Small, including its name, powertrains, equipment levels and local availability will be revealed later this year.