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'We are evolving into a more premium brand': How Mitsubishi Australia plans to take on Mazda and Volkswagen as it tries to move upmarket

The new-gen Outlander is pricier than it was before, but Mitsubishi believes it is justified with better appointments.

Mitsubishi Australia believes its new-generation product, like the Outlander, and in-built off-road technology will help justify higher prices and a move upmarket to take on Mazda and Volkswagen.

Speaking to CarsGuide, Mitsubishi Australia boss Shaun Westcott laid out the plan, and said its future models will carry the same go-anywhere capability the brand is known for.

“We don’t want to lose our roots, and we continue to build into our vehicles that same [off-road] technology that we have, but we are also evolving into a more premium brand,” he said.

“We are signalling that with new products, like the new Outlander and if you look at the quality and finish of that car, its more premium.

“And that strongly signals where we are going as a brand.”

Mitsubishi new-gen Outlander that launched late last year, for example, now starts at $34,990 before on-road costs, moving up more than $2000 when compared with the outgoing entry-level variant.

With the discontinuation of the Mirage light hatchback, Mitsubishi Australia’s most affordable model is the ASX small SUV, which kicks off from $24,990.

However, Mr Westcott said that Mitsubishi will not entirely abandon the price sensitive end of the market, which is currently dominated by burgeoning Chinese brands like MG and GWM Haval, and is aiming for all its vehicles to have a certain level of “versatility”.

“We don’t want to lose our roots, we will continue to provide affordable vehicles for our faithful and loyal markets that we’ve always had, but we are also looking to attract new buyers and come onto people’s consideration list that may not have considered us in the past,” he said.

“Taking that strong heritage and putting a more premium overlay on it is really where we’re heading as a brand.

“A key differentiator for us is our vehicles have, inherent in their DNA, is 4x4 technology that our competitors don’t have, and we believe that appeals to the Australian and the Australian lifestyle.

“Our cars give you that versatility.”

While not a move to become a full-blown luxury brand like the big German three, Mr Westcott nevertheless said the goal is to deliver a product that customers can use in almost any scenario.

“Let me just clarify, we are not aiming to become premium, we’re not trying to become a BMW or a Mercedes,” he said.

“We’re looking at the more premium segment of the market that we’re operating in, and that’s really looking to give customers the quality of finish on the car they would be proud of, and give them a fantastic drive in the city, but also the functionality to get out to enjoy their lifestyle – our cars can provide that in one package.”