Using Renault-Nissan's CMF architecture will help one, perhaps both, projects happen

Mitsubishi’s budget Mirage light hatch is almost certain to move upmarket in its next generation, onto an alliance platform shared with the Renault Clio and European Nissan Micra.

Additionally, the company hasn't ruled out re-introducing the Lancer, which ceased production for western markets at the end of last year. This business case seems less assured than the Mirage, however.

While Mitsubishi Motor Company (MMC) remains focused on SUVs and utes as its core products, and plug-in hybrid drivetrains as its market differentiator, it sees the need for cheaper passenger vehicles to get people into its brand.

“We will be converging on platforms. The Alliance has one called ‘CMF B’, so it's likely the next Mirage will be on the CMF B. But it’s not decided yet,” MMC chief operating officer, Trevor Mann, told media this morning.

The current Mirage is particularly strong in developing regions, such as ASEAN. It’s the cheapest new car in Australia, kicking off at $12,250 plus on-road costs.

It’s not entirely without merit, but you certainly get what you pay for compared to something like Kia’s more modern Picanto. But the next one should be a step up, while leveraging economies of scale through a shared architecture with its global partners (code for part-owners) means it should still be highly affordable.

It certainly needs to be, given MMC’s geographical focus. While the Clio and Micra have similar curvaceous styling, Mann was at pains to point out Mitsubishi’s design, sales, and marketing teams would be strictly separated from Renault and Nissan, and said the company must retain its ‘Mitsubishi-ness’ – whatever the heck that means.

Meanwhile, reports of the Lancer’s death aren’t exactly exaggerated, but perhaps slightly premature. We asked Mann if a new one, using a Renault Megane or Nissan Qashqai platform, is in the pipeline.

“Again it would be on a CMF B or [stretched] C platform,” he said, if it happened. He cited still-strong small sedan sales in China and other parts of Asia as potential justifiers for such a project.

“We are in the process of developing our long-range product plan, and what we’re doing there is studying the market and trying to decide. As you can imagine, there are many conflicts.

“The trend is towards SUVs obviously, and at the moment the profitability on sedan vehicles is squeezed because companies are trying to justify their exisiting [production] capacity.

“But what we need to look at is, as a brand, you need entry vehicles, two ideally, to bring somebody into your brand and then walk through as their lifestyle – financial or family – change. So we are reviewing our plan, we have ideas.”

In other words, watch and wait, Lancer fans. In the meantime, you’ve got plenty of small car options.