Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia (MMM) is poised to make an entry into the entry-level MPV market with the seven-seater Xpander. Currently on sale in Indonesia, Thailand and soon the Philippines, the 1.5-litre is aimed squarely at the Honda BR-V and Toyota Avanza. Its front-wheel drive layout and SUV-like styling however, puts it closer to the BR-V than the rear-wheel drive Avanza.
With the discontinuation of the Lancer, Mirage and Attrage from the local line-up, MMM’s current product line-up consists only of crossovers/SUVs and pick-up trucks. It could do well with a sub-RM100,000 three-row seat family car.
In response to a query by Carlist.my with regards to the prospects of the Xpander for the Malaysia, Mr. Hoffen Teh, Senior Vice-President of Mitsubishi Motors Malaysia said that discussions between MMM and MMC (Mitsubishi Motors Corporation) are on-going but stopped short of committing to a specific launch timing.
“MMM/MMC are proactively considering to introduce the Mitsubishi Xpander in the Malaysian market. We are now studying the feasibility to launch this model in Malaysia and will share further detail when our plan materialized,” said Teh.
Judging by the chatter in the market space, a launch within this year is very unlikely.
Sourcing arrangement is certainly a point of discussion. Mitsubishi Motors’ plant in Indonesia is currently the only source for the Xpander, supplying to Thailand as well as the Philippines. However Malaysia’s tax structure has provisions favouring locally-assembled vehicles.
MMM currently assembles two models – ASX and Outlander - at its contract assembly partner Tan Chong Motor Assemblies’ plant in Segambut. The Triton is imported from Thailand, as it has enough locally/regionally-sourced components to qualify for waiver of import duties under ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA). It is unclear if MMM will be importing the Xpander from Indonesia under AFTA or assembling it locally, although we think the former is more likely.
Separately, MMC have also confirmed that it will, at a later stage be producing a Nissan-badged version of the Xpander at its Indonesian plant. No details have been released by Nissan yet but it’s certain that both models will be mechanically similar, differentiated only by its front-end styling, with the Nissan version adopting an X-Trail-like front-end.
The Nissan-badged Xpander will replace Nissan’s aging Grand Livina, and the all-new Mitsubishi-developed model will certainly be introduced by Edaran Tan Chong Motor (ETCM) in Malaysia later, after the Mitsubishi Xpander’s local debut.
While both MMM and ETCM are fierce rivals in the local market space, Mitsubishi Motors and Nissan are part of the same Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Motors Alliance.
The Mitsubishi Xpander is powered by a 4A91 1.5-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder MIVEC petrol engine that makes 104 PS and 141 Nm, paired to a four-speed automatic transmission driving the front wheels.
Safety is adequate by the segment’s basic standards, but it matches everything the BR-V offers – two airbags in front with electronic stability control and hill-start assist. It has a 4-star ASEAN NCAP rating. The Honda BR-V had a 5-star rating but that was done under an earlier, less stringent scoring format.