DIFFLOCK.com – Mitsubishi Airtrek

3 Nov 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on DIFFLOCK.com – Mitsubishi Airtrek
Mitsubishi Airtrek

The Airtrek ‘Cross-over Utility Vehicle’ is the first new Mitsubishi to appear since the firm launched its Turnaround plan with DaimlerChrysler.

The Airtrek went on sale in Japan on June 20, tasked with hauling Mitsubishi out of a 10-month negative sales growth streak. The monthly domestic sales target is 5,000 units. A similar model with different front end styling will do battle in Europe and the US beginning later this year.

First displayed as a concept 18 months ago at the Tokyo Motor Show and later seen in prototype form, badged ASX, at Geneva in February the Airtrek is powered by 2.4-liter GDI or 2.0-liter ECI-Multi petrol engines driving through two or four wheels. Four-wheel-drive models use a center differential system found in the rally-based Lancer Evolution.

Prices in Japan start at Y1.7 million (US$14,160) for the 2wd 20E 2.0-liter model and top out at Y2.3 million (US$19,160) for the all-wheel-drive 24V-S 2.4-liter model. Customers can choose between 2wd and 4wd on all models. The 2.0-liter motor beats current Japanese emissions limits by 50% and returns 11km per liter in 4×4 format in mixed cycle (10-15 mode) tests.

The 2wd 2.0 model returns 11.2km per liter.

MMC is trumpeting the Airtrek as a new-generation crossover vehicle that sports levels of all-round performance surpassing any RV on the road today. The idea of a car-like off-roader, of course, is hardly new and the Airtrek will be up against a number of competitors, many of them Japanese.

At the launch event Mitsubishi president made much of the adoption of DaimlerChrysler quality control systems, allaying fears – well grounded fears given a long series of Mitsubishi recalls – that the Airtrek boasts top-notch quality and reliability. Chief operating officer Rolf Eckrodt said Airtrek offered consumers the best of both MPVs and more traditional passenger cars.

Airtrek is fairly compact (4,410 x 1,750 x 1,550mm) but sits on a long 2,625mm wheelbase in the interests of high-speed stability and can space. That makes it very similar in size to the Nissan X-TRAIL (4,445 x 1,764 x 1,675), Mazda Tribute (4,395 x 1,790 x 1,750mm) and Toyota RAV4 five-door (4,245 x 1,735 x 1,695mm). Even when a 3.0-liter V6 version of the Airtrek appears – something MMC officials prefer not to comment on but is nevertheless likely to happen – it will face a 3.0 V6 version of the Mazda Tribute, launched earlier this month.

These caveats aside, Airtrek looks like an impressive package. Its 2,625mm is the longest in its class and the cabin is very roomy given compact overall dimensions. Just as important, MMC has at long last diversified away from battleship gray interior trim packages, no doubt encouraged by Black-and-gray is still an option but there is a funky, colorful ‘Casual’ scheme which contrasts dark seats and lower cabin with deep orange panels.

Mitsubishi Airtrek

The chief features of the cabin at the T-shape dash architecture, dash-mounted gearshift lever, circular meters and air vents and dashes of chrome in the center panel. The standard loading volume is 402 liters (VDA method) but with the 60/40 split rear bench folded flat, capacity expands to 1,049 liters.

Safety equipment includes front seatbelt pretensioners and force limiters and three-channel, four-sensor ABS with electronic brake force distribution. A newly developed smart wiring system integrates control of all electric equipment in the vehicle.

Exterior styling in understated and classy. Asymmetric headlinghts, subtly flared wheel arches, an integrated roof spoiler and an uncluttered rear end are easy on the eye. Mitsubishi says the bodyshell is exceptionally stiff and is supposed to provide class-leading insulation from NVH and excellent crash-worthiness, having passed 55km/h full-front impact tests, 64km/h front offset tests and 55km/h side tests.

The 4×4 system uses the center differential to regulate torque split between front and rear wheels to secure traction in slippery conditions. When the system detects any slippage in any of the wheels the VCU (viscous coupling unit) automatically reapportions torque split in proportion to the rotational speed of the differential between front and rear wheels.

Airtrek’s core audience will be urban but Mitsubishi has a fine reputation of off-road vehicles and it insists that Airtrek is a competent mud plugger. The front suspension uses a stiff MacPherson strut arrangement bolstered by reinforcements to the the front cross member. MMC’s well proven multi-link trailing arm layout, tuned to give sporty performance, is seen in the rear.

Mitsubishi Airtrek
Mitsubishi Airtrek
Mitsubishi Airtrek
Mitsubishi Airtrek
Mitsubishi Airtrek
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