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Mitsubishi ASX Evolution, Triton Ralliart and a Mazda CX-3 rival: The new models Mitsubishi needs to boost its sales | Opinion

Mitsubishi needs some fresh metal to continue its strong sales.

Mitsubishi is off to a strong start in 2022, overtaking Hyundai, Kia and Ford to claim third place on the sales charts - according to the May sales data. But staying there will be a tough task as several models are set to disappear and their rivals will hit back.

The Japanese brand has confirmed it will soon lose the Mirage as it abandons passenger cars altogether, while the Express and Pajero, which are still notching sales numbers, will disappear with the remaining stock.

Unfortunately for Mitsubishi, there hasn’t been any confirmation of what will come next. There’s no new Pajero on the horizon and with passenger cars ruled out that means famous nameplates like Lancer are also consigned to the history books.

Here then, are our suggestions for Mitsubishi to consider if it wants to not cement its place as a top-selling brand in this country. 

If the company is serious about leaving behind passenger cars and focusing on SUVs, it will need to start expanding its options. And a new Light SUV should be the starting point.

Mitsubishi’s success is built off the back of the Triton, but the ASX and Outlander also play a significant role. If Mitsubishi really believes its future is in SUV then it will need to expand the range, and the most noticeable segment the company doesn’t play in is light SUV.

A smaller SUV, slotting beneath the ASX, would give the brand a rival to the likes of the Mazda CX-3, Hyundai Venue and Toyota Yaris Cross. As reported, the next-generation ASX was teased back in January, with Mitsubishi confirming that the ageing small SUV would be replaced in 2023 by a new model that shares underpinnings with "Renault best-sellers". That's thanks to the brand's place in the massive Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.

It is expected to be based on the same architecture as the Renault Captur and Nissan Juke light SUVs, meaning it could go down a size compared with the current model. Concerningly, there is a question mark over whether this new ASX will be sold in Australia, or if Mitsubishi will focus on European markets instead. 

Age hasn’t seemed to dent the current ASX's popularity too much, as it is still one of the most popular small SUVs.

The Eclipse Cross could already fill the role of a rival to the Mazda CX-30 and Hyundai Kona, so something newer and smaller could cement its future as an SUV-focused brand.

Next up the brand needs to look at adding a new family-friendly, seven-seat SUV that can compete against the likes of the Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento and Mazda CX-9.

The Pajero Sport is a solid performer for the brand, and is currently the second best-selling large SUV. But as Toyota has shown, having more than one popular model in a segment is a key to sales growth - just take a look at the Prado, Kluger and Fortuner. The trio of Toyotas account for a whopping 36 per cent of total sales in the mainstream large SUV market.

Which is why Mitsubishi should once-again take advantage of its place in an automotive alliance and use the Nissan Pathfinder as the basis for an all-new, family-friendly, seven-seat large SUV to sit alongside the Pajero Sport.

Speaking of the Pajero...

We’ve examined this in more depth in a separate story, but the lack of new Pajero creates a gaping hole in Mitsubishi’s line-up. Once again, leaning on the Alliance and producing a joint-venture Pajero/Patrol replacement seems like a no-brainer from the outside, but clearly Mitsubishi can’t make the numbers stack up.

How else can we explain the decision to not replace one of its most iconic models at a time when sales of the Toyota LandCruiser and Nissan Patrol are booming.

Finally, the Mitsubishi needs to begin rolling out its reborn Ralliart models. 

The company has confirmed it will revive its dormant Ralliart performance brand, teasing concepts and styling packages, but we’re still awaiting any official production models that live up to the name.

There would seem to be three obvious candidates for Ralliart upgrades - a new ASX, the Outlander and the Triton.

The Lancer Evolution was another iconic model for the brand but with no more passenger cars the ‘Evo’ legacy will need to make the transition to an SUV. The compact ASX makes the most sense, as an ASX Evolution would make for an ideal rival to the likes of the Hyundai Kona N and Volkswagen T-Roc R.

A Ralliart version of the popular Outlander seems likely, given that it was previewed as a concept car at the 2022 Tokyo Auto Salon. While too big to really embrace the spirit of the Lancer Evo, a ‘hotted-up’ version of the mid-size SUV would line-up nicely against the Hyundai Tucson N-Line and others.

Last, but by no means least, a Triton Ralliart would seem another home run for the brand. A serious rival to the Ford Ranger Raptor would have huge potential for the brand, building on the back of the sustained success of the Triton.