Mitsubishi is planning a mass of new models as part of a product offensive that will see no less than 14 new models launched over the next five years.
Most important is the European-built Colt hatchback – seen here testing ahead of its Geneva show debut next year – which will lead the charge in concert with a crossover SUV and cabriolet spin-offs.With the help of the Colt supermini, a new city car and replacements for the Carisma, Space Wagon and Shogun, Mitsubishi’s ageing range is finally being overhauled three years after DaimlerChrysler took control. The new models should bring coherence to a confused line-up that has failed to match the appeal of its Japanese rivals.
Mitsubishi’s range renewal builds on fresh design themes inspired by modern Japanese architecture, masterminded by French design chief Olivier Boulay. ‘We will match craftsmanship to our sporty heritage and engineering skill. We must move upmarket,’ he said.
Boulay confirmed the Colt range would have four variants: three- and five-door hatchbacks, plus a cabriolet and ‘something else’. The mystery model is expected to be a crossover 4x4 to replace the Shogun Pinin, currently assembled in Italy by Pininfarina.
All the new Colt models will share the new front-drive Smart ForFour platform and will feature a grille and dashboard unique for Europe, based on the CZ2 concept. Power comes from 1.1-, 1.3- and 1.5-litre petrols and a 1.5-litre diesel. Production at the Dutch NedCar factory starts next spring.
The much-needed Carisma replacement will arrive in late 2006 and will be based on an all-new Focus-sized platform being co-developed with Chrysler. It, too, will be built in Europe and will be rebadged Lancer.