Mitsubishi is reportedly considering a return to the MPV market in Australia with the sixth generation Delica D:5.
Withdrawn from the Australian market in 2003 where it was known as the Starwagon, the D:5, which received Mitsubishi’s Dynamic Shield front facia as part of a mid-life facelift last year, is allegedly being subjected to a case study in the hope of being determined feasible for Australia.
“Over the years we have looked at the Delica a number of times. We continue to get a lot of customer enquiries about this model which is why we are studying it again. We are even considering bringing a Japanese spec model here for evaluation,” Mitsubishi Motors Australia CEO, John Signoriello, was quoted by motoring.com.au as saying.
Competing in the highly popular luxury minivan segment in Japan where it rivals the Nissan Elgrand, Honda Odyssey and the Toyota Alphard/Vellfire, the D:5 provides seating for six, seven or eight and is offered in two trim levels; base and the aesthetically enhanced Urban Gear that rides on 18-inch alloy wheels and adds a number of bespoke exterior fittings.
While it is based on the GS platform that underpins the ASX, Pajero Sport and the South East Asian market Xpander, the updates included not only the Dynamic Shield facia, but also a new 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system, upgraded climate control switches, a new steering wheel and relocation of the gear lever to the centre console.
In addition, Mitsubishi also dropped the 2.4-litre petrol engine and CVT combo leaving the D:5 with a 130kW/380Nm 2.2 D-ID turbodiesel engine paired to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Although drive is sent to the front wheels as standard, the D:5 can optionally be specified with four-wheel-drive that features three modes; 2WD, 4WD and Lock and a segment first locking centre differential.
If given the green light, it will compete against the Toyota Granvia Down Under, but despite being a grey-market import favourite in various African countries, it is not expected to become an official model within the South African market anytime soon despite having been sold briefly as first the Ford Husky in the 1980s and then as the Starwagon over two generations.
Aside from the Delica, Mitsubishi will also re-enter the hotly contested panel van segment Down Under using a badge engineered version of the Renault Trafic.
“Just after Mitsubishi joined the Renault-Nissan Alliance, it was a strong request from the team in Australia to have more of a LCV offering and Renault, our partners, are extremely strong in Euro vans sold globally. It was an obvious request,” then Mitsubishi Chief Operating Officer, Trevor Mann, told caradvice.com.au last year.
“I’m not a huge fan of cross-badging, but on LCVs it doesn’t matter so much; the industry is full of cross-badges because you don’t necessarily buy a van because of the badge, but because of the service, relationship with the dealer, in a fleet pool, et cetera”.
In a subsequent interview with the same publication, Signoriello said that the new van, which could revive the Express moniker that went on hiatus in 2013, would not rival the Trafic on price as the anticipated starting sticker is set at $29 990 (R302 224) whereas the entry-level Trafic retails from $30 990 (R312 301).
“We want to get our fair share of whatever the (van) market is. Without giving away too much, we definitely don’t want to be competing head on with Renault (on price). We just want to try something a little bit different. Let’s wait and see what happens, the market will decide (on price),” Signoriello said.
Set to go up against the Ford Transit Custom, Volkswagen Transporter, Hyundai iLoad (H-1), Peugeot Expert and the runaway segment dominating Toyota HiAce, little else about the new van is known, but, like the Delica, don’t expect it to be offered in South Africa soon.