By on April 24, 2018

Mitsubishi e-Evolution Concept

Mitsubishi raised the hackles of former Eclipse owners by naming its latest crossover — the Eclipse Cross — after the defunct sporty coupe. It now seems prepared to do the same to current Lancer owners.

The automaker claims there’s a new Lancer on the way, but it won’t be the same Lancer you fondly recall from years past. The market simply won’t support a traditional sedan or hatch anymore, the brand’s chief operating officer says — at least not with the kind of volume Mitsubishi desires.

No, this new vehicle will straddle the already blurred boundaries between a hatchback and a crossover. Excited yet?

Speaking to Auto Express, Trevor Mann said the upcoming C-segment Lancer needs to compete against small vehicles of both the passenger car and crossover (or near-crossover) persuasion. Between now and 2025, Mitsu plans to launch new versions of the Outlander and Outlander Sport (ASX or RVR in other markets), as well as a new L200/Triton pickup. The Lancer nameplate slots below those two crossovers, and the model’s final shape is close to being finalized.

“Lancer’s probably the easiest one; we believe we’ve got a solution that could fit the segment,” Mann said. “Because if you look globally, the C-segment hatchback market is not shrinking. It’s down a bit in the US and Europe. But its numbers are still expanding in China. So there is appeal. And I think because the segment is so large globally, we’ve got to take a look at it.”

Chief designer Tsunehiro Kunimoto expanded on Mann’s comments, suggesting last year’s e-Evolution crossover concept will provide the model’s design direction.

“Just because it’s C-segment doesn’t mean it has to be a very conventional hatchback,” Kunimoto said. “Maybe we can create a new type of hatchback vehicle. We’re thinking quite radically. Originality is as much a part of the Mitsubishi design philosophy now as consistency.”

The platform underpinning the future hatch/crossover will surely come from the Renault-Nissan Alliance parts bin, given that Mitsubishi’s now a card-carrying member of the clan. It’s very possible we’ll see a hybrid and all-wheel-drive variant.

So, when will we see the new Lancer? Mann wasn’t forthcoming, but that’s par for the course for Mitsubishi. Since joining the alliance two years ago, the automaker’s product announcements have been few and far between, its tentative times constantly evolving. Platform and powertrain sharing is expected to begin in 2020.

Maybe we’ll one day see a full-size Diamante SUV.


[Image: Mitsubishi]

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