Mitsubishi’s attractive new 7-seater brings SUV Style, MPV practicality.
The South African seven-seater car market — the one that crosses over between a minibus and a sport ute — is buzzing right now. Long flush with everything from Toyotas, Suzukis, Hondas, Volkswagens and more to choose from, now that the Mitsubishi Xpander has joined the scrum.
Its a popular niche for good reason — these cars offer an attractive and affordable transport solution for everything from the larger family to the small business. Even the cab operator who needs a bit more space in his uber. So there’s a healthy demand. And an increasingly healthy supply, too — even healthier as since Mitsubishi released this sharp and so eloquently named all-new Xpander.
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Combining traditional MPV versatility and practicality with the looks of its big Triton and Pajero Sport brothers, the Tri Star seven-seater is built to serve the dynamic family with something a little different to the rest of the crowd. That look comes courtesy of Mitsubishi’s distinctive latest generation look. All edgy, from those crisp daytime running headlights through to the L-lit LED taillights, Xpander certainly looks the part. It has to — most of its rivals are pretty sharp, too
We like its flared fenders and the sporty 16-inch alloys on this automatic, while a 205 mm ground clearance adds to that practical SUV-like character.
Mitsubishi calls its cabin attention to detail Omotenashi. Which means to do your utmost to please your guests. It’s smart inside. OK, some finishes are hard and plasticky, but you have to touch the dash, for example, to find out. To the eye, its leathery in there, with a neat little seam stitched across the bottom of the dash. Albeit all cast in a mould! The brightwork and stable darker colours may however make you look again at the interior pics, for it certainly does look the part.
XPANDER IS A PLEASANT SPACE FOR SEVEN
Its a pleasant enough space for up to seven adults to travel in reasonably good comfort too on two tone grey cloth upholstered pews. We were impressed by Xpander’s cabin flexibility too. Especially the 60-40-split second row bench that can slide fore and aft to make space for the back row. And even fully forward, so there’s more than enough room for even a 1.8m-plus stature. The second row also has a little fold down table that doubles as a hatch to accommodate long loads.
The 50-50 split fold-flat third row of course also ups boot space to enable a cavernous space to carry whatever you need for away weekends. And there’s a neat covered comparment under the boot floor for extra private goodie stowage too. That back third row pops back up to make Xpander the ideal lift club bus in the week. Is there still such a thing? School lift clubs?
Xpander is surprisingly well equipped — it has climate controlled aircon with manual overhead cooling for the second and third rows, power windows all round and welcome lights too. The infotaiment system does the job intended of it. There’s a USB port up front, 120 Watt power sockets in each row and more clever storage compartments under the seats.
PERKY 71 KW TWIN CAM 16-VALVE
Driver and front passenger airbags only could be considered a shortfall, but all seats have force-limited pre-tensioner seatbelts and thre are ISOFIX child seat anchors.
On the road, Mitsubishi’s robust, perky 77 kW 141 Nm 1.5-litre multipoint fuel injected all-aluminium twin-cam 16-valve engine proved robust and perky, as its run on our test strip demonstrates. This one’s autobox is quite basic, agricultural, but it gets the job done well enough, although it won’t win any sprint races. It’s economical, at a claimed 7 litres per hundred kilometres.
The R319K Xpander accelerates to 100 km/h in 12.5 seconds, pulls from 80 to 120 km/h in 9.5 seconds and sips 7 litres per 100 km. That compares to the R310K Suzuki Ertiga’s 11.8 seconds to 100, 9.4 80-120 and 6.2 l/100km, the R313K Toyota Avanza’s 11.8 and 11.2 seconds at 6.7 l/100 and the R334K VW Caddy 1.6 at 12.1 and 9.3 seconds at 8.2 l/100. The rapid Honda BRV manages 11.2 seconds to 100, 7.7 seconds 80-120 and 6.2 l/100 km but costs a premium R375K.
XPANDER IS QUIET ON THE ROAD. HANDLES WELL TOO
Ride is smooth and Xpander is quiet on the road — testament to its comprehensive anti-noise and anti-vibration measures. It handles well enough, is agile and easily manoeuvrable too, which will prove a plus in this neck of the woods. Especially considering its hatchback-like 5.2 metre turning circle. Xpander brakes in the bunch too with ABS anti-skid and electronic force distribution to add confidence.
Backed by an impressive three-year 100 000 km warranty and a rather tight two-year/30 000 km service plan at annual intervals with five-years and unlimited mileage roadside assistance, the Mitsubishi Xpander stacks up rather well. Bold, bright and edgy it runs well with the rest of the family SUV bunch, but it certainly looks the part and delivers space, style and convenience advantages at a most competitive price.
And its the newest kid on the block too, which is always an advantage, no? — Michele Lupini
Images: Giordano Lupini
ROAD TESTED: Mitsubishi Xpander 1.5 Auto Engine: 77 kW 141 Nm 1.5-litre petrol I4 Drive: 4-speed automatic FWD TESTED: 0-60 km/h: 5.51 sec 0-100 km/h: 12.54 sec 0-120 km/h: 19.29 sec 400m: 18.8 sec @ 118 km/h 80-120 km/h: 9.53 sec CLAIMED: VMax: 155 km/h Fuel: 7 l/100 km CO2: 164 g/km Warranty/Service: 3y 100K/3y 30K km LIST PRICE: R319K RATED: 7