Tsunehiro Kunimoto, corporate general manager of Mitsubishi Motors’ design office, spoke with CarAdvice at the unveiling of the bulky GT-PHEV concept SUV, where he was keen to point out that the show car was a styling exercise first and foremost.
“This is pure concept car, especially in this category. This is a coupe-style SUV,” he said.
When asked if Mitsubishi buyers might be drawn to something like this – a plug-in hybrid SUV with chunky exterior dimensions – Kunimoto indicated a clear answer.
“Yes, of course, but there is inner roominess and also good space,” he said, before suggesting that it would likely be Outlander size if it were to make production.
“Around that area, but this is mostly a new category I want to establish,” he said. “Very big size but it’s quite a tight cabin. Our Outlander is a three-row, maximum cabin usage, you know for family usage, for functional use. So this is mostly a little bit more premium.”
An SUV that’s big on the outside but tight on the inside mightn’t sound like a brilliant idea, but Kunimoto reminded us that this is a four-seat SUV, and suggested there is still usable space inside.
When asked if he thought a production model could eventuate, he said: “This is our challenge. I want to hear what your feelings are in writing, and customers’ reaction.”
As for the long-awaited production replacement for the ASX (or Outlander Sport as it’s called in some markets), it seems likely that we’ll see it at the 2017 Geneva motor show.
The new model has been spied in production guise and camouflage cladding recently, while Mitsubishi again rolled out the bright yellow EX concept at the Paris show, with Kunimoto stating that an electric version is more likely than a hybrid model.
“Electric range is maybe more convenient to use rather than a hybrid EV, because it doesn’t need two motors,” he said.
There’s a chance that the new model at Geneva won’t be the ASX replacement, but rather a new gap-filler to slot between the ASX and Outlander… A la the GT-PHEV.
We’ll just have to wait and see.