Clues could come from the e-Evolution concept

The Mitsubishi Lancer could soon return, but in the form of a sporty crossover competing in the small passenger car and SUV segments according to a new report out of the UK.

Speaking with Auto Express, Trevor Mann, chief operating officer for Mitsubishi Motors, said the Japanese brand is now looking into a new-generation small car to continue where the now-discontinued Lancer left off.

"We have a long-range product plan that’s pretty solid until 2025, and a dotted line beyond that," he said, "Within that what we’ve said is, ‘Which vehicles do we want? What are we going to work on?"

"We’re going to replace ASXOutlander and Triton. Then we have these two boxes: Pajero and Lancer."

"Lancer’s probably the easiest one; we believe we’ve got a solution that could fit the segment. Because if you look globally, the C-segment hatchback [Golf and Focus] market is not shrinking," he continued.

"It’s down a bit in the US and Europe. But its numbers are still expanding in China. So there is appeal. And I think because the segment is so large globally, we’ve got to take a look at it.'

Meanwhile, chief designer Tsunehiro Kunimoto said the design of the e-Evolution concept (pictured) shown at last year's Tokyo motor show would be great for a new small car – even hinting Mitsubishi's next competitor in the segment could be a crossover of sorts.

"Just because it’s C-segment doesn’t mean it has to be a very conventional hatchback," he said.

"Maybe we can create a new type of hatchback vehicle. We’re thinking quite radically. Originality is as much a part of the Mitsubishi design philosophy now as consistency."

The British publication adds the new Lancer would likely be based on the Alliance's CMF C/D platform – which currently underpins the Nissan Qashqai, X-Trail and Renault Megane – which is capable of supporting a crossover body while also allowing for hybrid technology.

Should the next Lancer be an SUV?