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Look out, Kia Carnival: Mitsubishi Delica looms large for Australia with radical looks and Toyota LandCruiser-like off-road capabilities

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While this 2023 Tokyo concept is out there, the basic shape and themes are expected to transfer over to the production Delica.
While this 2023 Tokyo concept is out there, the basic shape and themes are expected to transfer over to the production Delica.

Mitsubishi’s radical new Delica Crossover is shaping up as a strong contender for Australia, with Australian management pushing to get the business case over the line.

Widely speculated to be known as the D:6 Delica in deference to the outgoing D:5 version that has soldiered on in other parts of the world since 2007, it is slated for an international unveiling next year or sometime during 2025.

This puts the production Delica in a mid-decade on-sale timeframe for Australia, as an MY26 model, though it could come even sooner if some overseas reports are to be believed.

According to Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited (MMAL) President and CEO, Shaun Westcott, the company’s intentions were on display for the world to see at the Japan Mobility Show in Tokyo in late October this year as the D:X Concept.

“The good news is that, if you followed the Japan Mobility Show… join the dots,” he revealed.

“(MMAL product chief) Oliver Mann kindly brought a (previous-gen D:5) Delica to Australia (for assessment by motoring journalists) … asking for feedback. And if you haven’t worked out why we’re asking for (local) feedback, I’d be surprised.”

While stopping short of confirming the Delica as a certainty for Australia, Westcott said he is very keen to see the next-generation version in local Mitsubishi showrooms as soon as possible.

Its basic proportions, 4x4-levels of ground clearance and front-end styling graphics are expected to translate to the production version (albeit in watered-down form).
Its basic proportions, 4x4-levels of ground clearance and front-end styling graphics are expected to translate to the production version (albeit in watered-down form).

“It’s not signed off and guaranteed, but it is definitely a product that we’ve put our hand up for, and said we want it for Australia, and it is obviously under serious consideration,” he explained.

“I can’t give you the answer exactly (when Mitsubishi will unveil the final production version of the D:X Concept), but I can tell you that the fact that we’ve put it out there as a concept vehicle - and that is a concept vehicle - (means) it is clearly on the radar.”

The Mitsubishi Motor Corporation pulled no punches in its attempt to communicate the expanded capabilities and appeal of the next-gen Delica.

Its basic proportions, 4x4-levels of ground clearance and front-end styling graphics are expected to translate to the production version (albeit in watered-down form).

If greenlit for Australia, the next Delica will return Mitsubishi to the MPV multi-purpose vehicle market against the likes of the dominant Kia Carnival and the related Hyundai Staria, but with an off-road twist to appeal to the family recreation and grey nomad markets.
If greenlit for Australia, the next Delica will return Mitsubishi to the MPV multi-purpose vehicle market against the likes of the dominant Kia Carnival and the related Hyundai Staria, but with an off-road twist to appeal to the family recreation and grey nomad markets.

And while the off-road themes suggest that there may be a relationship with the incoming MV Triton ute to launch in Australia next February, the next Delica is more likely to be built on the Outlander SUV’s CMF-C/D (Common Module Family C/D mid-to-large) architecture.

Monocoque like the D:5 version (which uses the old GS platform currently serving the ageing ASX and Eclipse Cross small SUVs in Australia) rather than ladder-frame, the CMF-C/D architecture also underpins nearly two dozen separate models from Renault and Nissan under their combined Alliance strategy.

As we’re reported in the past, the Outlander PHEV is quite capable of light off-road duties.
As we’re reported in the past, the Outlander PHEV is quite capable of light off-road duties.

If greenlit for Australia, the next Delica will return Mitsubishi to the MPV multi-purpose vehicle market against the likes of the dominant Kia Carnival and the related Hyundai Staria, but with an off-road twist to appeal to the family recreation and grey nomad markets.

Interestingly, the new model might add the 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) powertrain as per the Outlander PHEV, adding to the MPV crossover’s appeal. In contrast, the outgoing Delica uses a 2.2-litre turbo-diesel engine, paired to an eight-speed automatic and AWD system with a low range function.

The Delica badge, which is a portmanteau of Delivery Car, first saw the light of day in 1968, and has been sold in Australia as the Mitsubishi Express for two generations and over several decades from 1980.
The Delica badge, which is a portmanteau of Delivery Car, first saw the light of day in 1968, and has been sold in Australia as the Mitsubishi Express for two generations and over several decades from 1980.

As we’re reported in the past, the Outlander PHEV is quite capable of light off-road duties.

By the way, the D:X Concept name refers to “Discover:eXperience” and not Delica Crossover, as some pundits might think.

Speaking of peoples’ thoughts, here’s what Mitsubishi’s global boss, Takao Kato, had to say about the D:X Concept.

(Featured here is the Mitsubishi Delica D5)
(Featured here is the Mitsubishi Delica D5)

“It is a concept car that brings together the best of Mitsubishi Motors' technologies – our electrification and all-wheel control technologies in particular – with a view to realising a carbon-neutral society. We will continue to provide fulfilling mobility lifestyles that awaken the adventurous spirit of drivers and provide excitement for everyone on board."

The Delica badge, which is a portmanteau of Delivery Car, first saw the light of day in 1968, and has been sold in Australia as the Mitsubishi Express for two generations and over several decades from 1980.

It is not related to the Renault Trafic-based Express that was available briefly in this market for two years from 2020.

Byron Mathioudakis
Contributing Journalist
Byron started his motoring journalism career when he joined John Mellor in 1997 before becoming a freelance motoring writer two years later. He wrote for several motoring publications and was ABC Youth radio Triple J's "all things automotive" correspondent from 2001 to 2003. He rejoined John Mellor in early 2003 and has been with GoAutoMedia as a senior product and industry journalist ever since. With an eye for detail and a vast knowledge base of both new and used cars Byron lives and breathes motoring. His encyclopedic knowledge of cars was acquired from childhood by reading just about every issue of every car magazine ever to hit a newsstand in Australia. The child Byron was the consummate car spotter, devoured and collected anything written about cars that he could lay his hands on and by nine had driven more imaginary miles at the wheel of the family Ford Falcon in the driveway at home than many people drive in a lifetime. The teenage Byron filled in the agonising years leading up to getting his driver's license by reading the words of the leading motoring editors of the country and learning what they look for in a car and how to write it. In short, Byron loves cars and knows pretty much all there is to know about every vehicle released during his lifetime as well as most of the ones that were around before then.
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