Nothing is more important to Mitsubishi, right now, than its all-new RVR. It's the most important new arrival since the latest Lancer, which has now been in showrooms for around five years. The RVR - or ASX, for Active Sports Crossover, also being considered for Australia - should be down under by the middle of the year with the sharp looks to take it head-to-head against the Subaru Forester, Volkswagen Tiguan and value-for-money Nissan Dualis.
Pricing is still to be announced, but a Mitsubishi sources suggests the RVR will undercut all rivals from around $25,000 with an almost identical driving experience and class-leading ride comfort levels. Mitsubishi has done the homework and it shows.
Body and styling
The new Mitsubishi was born as a concept car called the cX in 2007 and now emerges as a development from the Outlander, which is also the basis for the classy Lancer Evolution X. The RVR is 345 millimetres shorter than the Outlander and 200kg lighter, but looks strangely familiar because it shares the latest 'brand face' for Mitsubishi. But there is more to the newcomer than just a good look.
“We are confident that the RVR is the right car for the right time,” says project manager Hiroshi Fujii, who was also the chief engineer of the last two Lancer Evolutions. “This car perfectly blends the high level chassis stability of the Evo with the utility and comfort of the Outlander, but packaged into a more compact size."
Fit-out and equipment
Inside, Mitsubishi has lifted trim levels with high-quality plastics, and added a powered leather seat option, a Rockford Fosgate audio system and a large panorama glass roof. But whether that will meet international roll-over crash standards is still being determined. There is tilt-and-telescope steering adjustment, while the seats are firm and comfortable, rear seat headroom caters to those under 180cm tall. It gets no less than seven cupholders, five for front-seat occupants.
Engineers are especially proud of the RVR’s newly fitted ‘super-wide’ HID headlight coverage which doubles the area of road lit on both sides by the lights. All models are fitted with stability control, anti-skid brakes, hill- start assist and a brake energy regenerative system. This channels the energy generated during deceleration and braking to the battery for use by the idle-stop system.
The new Mitsubishi crossover incorporates a three-mode, electronically-controlled four-wheel drive system inherited from the Outlander. It allows drivers the choice of front, all and locked driving modes. Internal safety tests point to a five-star NCAP result with seven airbags, including one for the driver's knees, as standard.
Australian cars will be powered by a 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder MIVEC petrol engine and have either five-speed manual or CVT gearboxes. But no power or emissions figures are available yet. Still, based on European engine numbers the emissions numbers for CO2 should be in the 139-145 grams/kilometre range. Expect power and torque figures to be revealed closer to the mid-year launch, although I am told that all engines clear Euro 4 and Tier 2 Bin 5 emissions regulations and will be sold with both two and four-wheel drive.
Based on a Mitsubishi engineer’s comments, the Aussie-spec version with the 2.0 litre and five-speed manual combination will be the one to go for, and will deliver more driving enjoyment than the model I drive in Japan. The new RVR employs the current Outlander’s platform and the Lancer’s five-speed gearbox, modified to fit the new diesel and a sharp, aggressive road presence. My test car is a four-wheel-drive, Japan-specification model powered by a MIVEC 1.8-litre petrol engine with CVT generating 102 kW/172Nm.
Reaching 100 km/h from rest in around nine seconds, the five-seater RVR is no bullet, but it does its job efficiently thanks to a CVT with paddle-shift fitted 6-speed sports mode that is relatively high geared and reads 2100 revs in sixth at 100 km/h. When I floor the throttle the RVR has enough punch to satisfy highway drivers. CVT drivers wanting quicker acceleration will use the paddles. Yet to have the car move along at the desired rate of knots, especially coming out of tight corners, it is necessary to keep the RVR spinning at over 3500 revs - although this will not be the case with the five-speed manual in Australia.
Target buyers prefer comfort over performance so the Mitsubishi crossover uses clever noise-and-vibration isolation and ride quality that’s more comfortable than the Forester or Dualis. It turns on cue with good weight and steering feel and suffers from less understeer and body roll than the Outlander due to its lighter 1420kgs and revised front McPherson strut and rear multi-link setup.
The RVR pulls up adequately thanks to its front vented disc brakes with less than expected nose dive. It feels as solid, substantial and stable on the road as any rival in showrooms today, but I expect nothing less from this chassis that’s good enough for the wicked quick Evo.
Price: not set, likely from $25,000
On sale: soon
Engine: 2-litre, four-cylinder
Gearbox: CVT with six-speed sports model, all-wheel drive
Economy: Approx 8L/100km (Japan)
Emissions: CO2 168g/km (Japan)