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More hybrids and SUVs from Mitsubishi. Image by Mitsubishi.

More hybrids and SUVs from Mitsubishi
Mitsubishi focuses on its core SUV and plug-in hybrid strengths for rapid model growth.
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SUVs and hybrids?

A once unusual combination, but one that Mitsubishi absolutely owns with its big-selling Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid. It'll build on that too, the firm promising a new model every year for the next five. That swell in models will inevitably increase the sales volume, with the UK arm anticipating as many as 45,000 registrations by 2021.

More plug-ins then?

Absolutely, and crucially a new one for the B-segment, one of the fastest-growing marketplaces there is. Think of the new B-SUV Mitsubishi as a rival to the Nissan Juke and it's due to arrive in 2018. Its looks will follow those of the eX concept, which was coincidentally overseen by the same person who was head of Nissan's design when the Juke was conceived - Tsunehiro Kunimoto.

So it'll look sharp?

Mitsubishi has always been pretty good at delivering production cars that look close to its concepts, so yes, the eX will undoubtedly stand out. Not just for styling either, as it'll be offered with a fully electric drivetrain. Mitsubishi's Lance Bradley told us it'll offer a range of around 250 miles on a single charge. Those still unconvinced can have it with a conventional diesel or petrol engine, in either front- or four-wheel drive guises.

That's just one SUV, what about the rest?

While that B-SUV will undoubtedly be instrumental in the boost in sales, so too will an entirely rejuvenated line-up. The first to arrive will be a new SUV sitting between the current, smartly facelifted and updated ASX (which will remain on sale until 2020) and the Outlander. It'll be shown at next year's Geneva Motor Show and will use a small capacity petrol engine mated to a 160hp electric motor. Like the current PHEV offerings it'll be four-wheel drive and it is anticipated to deliver CO2 emissions as low as 40g/km. Bradley claims that many PHEV customers say they'll not drive anything else, so the introduction of a smaller, cheaper model gives the firm more opportunity for growth.

And the Outlander?

A pillar of sales in the UK, and responsible for Mitsubishi being recognised as a maker of PHEVs, the Outlander isn't pencilled in for replacement until around 2020. The current diesel version is a seven-seater, though that's yet to be decided for its replacement, as a new Shogun Sport based on the series five L200 pick-up's underpinnings is due to offer a big, seven-seat option in the line-up. It's already available in other markets, as it's built in Thailand, and it appeals to Mitsubishi's traditional customers looking for a tough, capable off-road vehicle. It should be in the UK within the next year.

Isn't that the Shogun's job?

Pretty much, and it'll continue on sale for a while yet, Bradley admitting its sales continue to impress, despite its advancing years. Indeed, the Shogun is demonstrative of the firm's strategy, it seeing a place for itself under Land Rover, filling the mainstream void as the British firm gets ever more ambitious with its pricing and premium status. That gives Mitsubishi a real opportunity, says Bradley, building on both its SUV heritage and recently-won PHEV expertise. It sees real potential for growth combining two attractive elements to lead the marketplace.

Will the Shogun ever be replaced?

Yes, it's the oldest model in the line-up, and it'll continue to be for sometime yet. The new Shogun should arrive in 2020, as Mitsubishi is concentrating its efforts for growth in larger volume market segments. Its replacement will be very much in the same vein as the existing one - obviously SUV in its stance, though a bit more upmarket inside as with Mitsubishi's recent models, and with the promise of excellent off-road and towing ability.

At the other end of the range Mitsubishi will continue to sell the poor-selling, though recently heavily overhauled, Mirage sub-supermini. In time it'll be available with the choice of electric power too, adding an entry-point to the firm's rapidly expanding, plug-in offering.

Kyle Fortune - 21 Mar 2016

2015 Mitsubishi eX concept. Image by Newspress.2015 Mitsubishi eX concept. Image by Newspress.2015 Mitsubishi eX concept. Image by Newspress.  

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