The Multi-Purpose Vehicle stable in the local sphere has seen a rather sedate decline in the past years simply because SUVs have become ‘trendy’ over the years. Even with the decline, Mitsubishi still has faith in the respective stable with its new Xpander.
Although it might take a few flashes to get used to how the Mitsubishi Xpander looks, the design cues work especially when you understand where the brand is headed in terms of its design language. Yes, the cost-effective MPV segment is a miniature one where the likes of the market buff Toyota Avanza, Renault Triber, Honda BR-V and Suzuki Ertiga play. The Xpander with its 16” alloys, lower-positioned headlights, daytime running lights and illuminated LED taillights is sure a stunner in this fraternity.
As a cost-effective seven-seater MPV, there are points where Mitsubishi could have done better. Yet it is not a bad proposition to live with on a day to day basis. Touch points such as the door panels and dashboard are of cheap material, not forgetting the faux leather on the steering wheel and gear lever. Even with the mentioned issues, the interior is well put together with durable stitching and does not rattle over poor road conditions.
The interior space is adequate in the front and second row but it is a completely different story in the third row – the seats are best left for children due to their cramped leg room. The boot space is relatively small with the third row of seats up, however, folding them further expands it. There is an under-seat multi-purpose storage, ventilation for the rear compartment and boot floor box as well as several storage spaces throughout the car, something that could be very usable during weekend getaway trips.
As standard, our test unit came fitted with an infotainment system, multi-function steering wheel, all-around electric windows, tilt- and telescopic-adjustable steering column, Bluetooth, multi-information display and a single USB port situated in the cubby via a cord. The infotainment system is easy to navigate but it runs out of processing juice on the odd occasion.
A sole 1.5-litre naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine does the job across the Xpander range and develops 77 kW of power and 141 Nm of torque and qualifies to be called ‘adequate’ under normal driving situations. Plummet your foot with intent and the engine revs high while also taking its time to get up to speed. On the open road, the Mitsubishi Xpander gulps kilometres with so much simplicity until you encounter an uphill and the whole revving situation begins which begs the question of its ability when laden with the weight of seven passengers.
Our test unit featured an automatic transmission with an overdrive function on the gear lever. The function works pretty well in keeping the Xpander at a certain rev range for better fuel economy and reduction of wear and tear. Thanks to its 205 mm ground clearance, we were able to tackle some minor off road situations. During the weekly stint with the car, it returned a combined average fuel consumption of 7.3-litres / 100 km which is slightly higher than Mitsubishi’s claim of 7.0l / 100 km.
When it comes to safety, the Xpander is not class leading but comes fitted with airbags, seatbelt pretensioners with force limiters, ABS with EBD and ISOFIX child seat anchors.
Although new in the MPV segment, the Mitsubishi Xpander does not pretend to be anything else. The driving dynamics remain at an acceptable level with impressive handling prowess. Even though buyers nowadays focus mainly on performance, the Xpander may definitely be the MPV they crave for, thanks to its high-riding profile, spacious cabin and comfort.
The Mitsubishi Xpander is a viable option in the MPV fraternity for those looking for a cost-effective seven-seater vehicle. While the Xpander slightly disappoints when it comes to interior quality and sluggish performance, its reliability remains an attraction. Also, there are no fancy thrills thrown around the car, it’s just all about being a seven-seater cost-effective option.
The Mitsubishi Xpander is backed-up by a three-year / 100,000 km manufacturer’s warranty and a two-year / 30,000 km service plan.
Words: Ntsako Mthethwa
Images: Mitsubishi SA