By on December 30, 2018

Mitsubishi announced that it would be bringing a new concept vehicle to next month’s Tokyo Auto Salon and it’s… certainly something. Based on the upscale “Urban Gear” variant of the new Delica D:5, the show car aims to take Japanese van life offroad by bestowing the MPV with protective scaffolding, a roof rack, more lamps, and some red mudflaps.

Though, with three tiers of forward illumination (four if you count the roof) and one of the boxiest designs we’ve seen since the Volvo 240, the Delica looks like something straight out of an 1980s sci-fi film. Our own Steph Willems even went so far as to claim a rather uncanny resemblance to the titular hero from the film Robocop when presented with the above photo. 

Polarizing as the looks may be, the Delcia technically adheres to the brand’s current design language. The concept even implements the blackened bumpers Mitsubishi is rumored to have planned for the new “street sport” versions of its existing SUVs.

The new Delica is powered by Mitsubishi’s 2.2-liter DI-D turbodiesel, which provides 170 hp and 289 foot-pounds torque via an eight-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive is standard, though the van can be had with AWD. The concept goes all out by using the version with locking diffs as its starting point and incorporates the optional “clean” diesel engine with electric assist.

With three rows and room for six, the MPV seems ready to trounce those compact “lifestyle”crossovers that seem so popular right now. But Mitsubishi probably wouldn’t consider bringing the model to North America even if it adhered to America’s regulatory guidelines in its current form. It’s just not quite to our tastes. Though, if the Delica did make it to our shores, there would be nothing else like it on the road.

Am I crazy for kind of liking this ugly little vehicle or has my van bias blinded me to the realities of the Western market?

[Images: Mitsubishi]

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22 Comments on “Mitsubishi’s New Delica Concept: Going ORV With the Japanese MPV...”


  • avatar
    afedaken

    It’s not a cab-over, so I don’t see any reason it couldn’t be made to comply with U.S. standards. And honestly, it’s more masculine in its lines than any of the current minivan offerings here in the states. Add a few conspicuous off-road lights, AWD, drop a bow tie in the grille, slap a Safari label on it, and I’ll bet you could convince plenty of dads that a minivan has a home in the driveway.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Safari belongs on a GMC (especially with Pontiac being gone). If something like this caught on, I say GM build a competitor on the Colorado platform, as a GMC Safari. It’ll be more of a legit version of the concept, utilizing BOF instead of FWD/unibody.

      Making a FWD-only unibody minivan look butch like a crossover but offering no other advantages over any other minivan didnt work for Ford (Freestar) or GM (Uplander, etc), and it isnt working for Kia (Sedona is by far the worst selling minivan).
      Making one *actually* more like a crossover (this) or SUV (based on BOF architecture) would give it a whole different appeal. Yeah, it’s a minivan, a minivan that can follow most Jeeps this side of a Wrangler/Gladiator anywhere they want to go.

  • avatar
    thejohnnycanuck

    Nothing wrong with a little van bias. That’s pretty cool and considering how many older Delicas I see that have been brought over from Japan there’s definitely a market.

    That interior looks especially nice and look ma, no blind spots.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I’ve been saying forever if car companies want to renew people’s interest in minivans they need to offer something with AWD and a rugged persona. This is what I’m talking about. With a little tweaking for the American market this could be a real hit

  • avatar
    jatz

    Kawaii and macho don’t mix very well. Jokemon.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    Great article on a capable machine ( pic #1 ). I like that it can apparently fly, as pictures #2 and #3 indicate. The FLIR and look-down/shoot-down capabilities ( pic #2 ) should adequately help to sanitize most LZs for the six embarked commandos ( pic #3 ) when they – oh. Wait. It’s a van ( pic #4 )

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    I genuinely like it. Would love to see something like this here. Mitsubishi- hit ’em where they ain’t!

    • 0 avatar
      JLGOLDEN

      This is what I am thinking as well: Delica would enter an area which isn’t well represented, without going over the cliff of weirdness. The rugged trim packages would probably do better with buyers. Gotta price them *right* and get them on buyers’ radar through an innovative or aggressive campaign.

  • avatar
    James2

    Except for the Toyota-grade front end, I like it. Square lines ought to mean lots of room inside, and the designers ought to be (half) commended for not torturing the sheetmetal. Whoever designed the nose ought to be shot, though.

  • avatar

    I also genuinely like it. If they put machine gun turrets on the roof I will be the first one in the line to buy it and I suspect I will be not the only one – there will be many fans – the ultimate American minivan in the age of PC. Bring it!

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    That first picture looks like a ‘roided-up Aztek did a smash-and-grab through SEMA.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    I like it. In keeping with reviving names for vehicles that have no business carrying that name (Eclipse), I think it should carry Starion badges here.

  • avatar
    bufguy

    Reminds me of the Honda Element….I remember seeing the prototype in 2002 and knew I wanted one…Ended up buying a 2004 and the final year 2011

  • avatar
    scott25

    As another poster has noted, early 90’s Delicas (usually diesel and 4WD, with as many brush bars and spot lights as possible) are HUGELY successful in Canada, especially the west coast, and I imagine they will increasingly become so in the US as well. They have become the closest modern equivalent to the VW Bus.

    I don’t imagine it’d even be close if stats on RHD vehicles imported to this continent were released. Their top heavy nature and tendency to be involved in accidents (probably more related to their drivers) seems to reopen the debate on whether older RHD vehicles belong on our roads every few years.

  • avatar
    saturnotaku

    Aside from a front end that looks a bit too much like a Toyota Highlander, I really like this.

  • avatar
    JLGOLDEN

    I own a 2018 Odyssey Touring, and previously had a 2017 Pacifica – so I am already biased toward minivan utility and driving position. I absolutely LOVE this Mitsubishi. Though lifted *wagons* are the showroom buzzmakers, I think creative product placement and marketing could help put Delicas in driveways. If it looks rugged and adventurous, feels perky and moderately agile, and can nail an attractive price point…people might just appreciate it and buy it. Apples to oranges, perhaps, but there is definitely a market for quirky, as the Kia Soul doesn’t exactly stagnate on dealer lots.

  • avatar
    smythmicbismolthil

    Looks to me like someone snorted a bunch of coke and did a build on a Honda Element.


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