| Lyna Mohamad |
SHARP and smart with performance to match, the Mitsubishi Xpander has won the hearts of Indonesians, its primary target market, and has done the same with Bruneians.
The car was crowned Indonesia’s Car of the Year at the Otomotif Award 2018, also grabbing two more accolades at the same ceremony: the Best of the Best MPV and Best Small MPV (Best Low MPV) awards.
It drew a similar warm reception in the Philippines, where it was voted the Best Design MPV in the Auto Focus Media’s Choice Awards and the Best Compact Carrier at the C! Awards for both its design and performance.
The Xpander, a seven-seater compact MPV designed and produced by Mitsubishi Motors in Indonesia, has also turned the heads of Bruneians hunting for that perfect family vehicle to accommodate their growing families.
Dimension-wise, the car certainly looks the part: At 1,700mm high, the Xpander, which blurs the lines between an SUV and an MPV, stands out in the crowd and is easily the largest among its peers in the little SUV and MPV class.
But don’t let the car’s size fool you into thinking that it is a brute. Head over to the side and you will discover a floating, futuristic side profile marked by some cool angles, while in the rear, an integrated spoiler and upswept, neatly-arranged LED taillights sustain the attention.
At the front, a pair of futuristic-looking headlights housed mid-bumper alongside integrated indicators, and triple lighting signatures that encompass Mitsubishi’s Dynamic Shield design language and slim LED parking lights situated at the edges of the hood, catch the eye further.
Aesthetic appeal meets practical functionality when one steps inside the Xpander.
The car boasts a surprisingly spacious cabin and one of the most tastefully-designed interiors in its class, coming with fabric seats that offer great support and adjustable into a range of configurations to accommodate larger families or those with more fully-grown children comfortably.
There is also a good amount of storage spaces for items like phones, wallets and coins, including hidden compartments under the second row seats and trunk, while passengers with a penchant for bringing their takeaway coffee or tea into the car can ride easy as cup holders can be found throughout the cabin.
These comfort features are a manifestation of Mitsubishi’s Omotenashi concept – a philosophy which can be seen in full flow in the Xpander’s electronics and entertainment system.
Three 12V power outlets – one in each row – give passengers that added convenience of being able to charge their smartphones or digital audio players while on the go.
You can also enjoy movies, music and more on the 2-DIN, 6.2″ touchscreen with DVD display and MP3 audio system, as well as Bluetooth smartphone connection and hands-free phone conversations.
And convenience certainly seems to be a theme for the Xpander; head over to the driver’s seat and you will notice a steering wheel adorned with buttons to control the car’s audio and telephone systems, such as the Steering Wheel Remote Control Switch/Voice Command With Hand Free Switch.
This means that the driver can devote their full attention on the road while gaining easy control of the audio and telephone call functions.
Another noteworthy feature is the Coming Home Light, where by simply pulling the cornering switch towards yourself within 60 seconds after switching off the car’s engine, the headlamps will remain in the low beam position and stay turned on for another 30 seconds to illuminate the way for you while you walk away.
The car is able to hold its own as well in the performance department, capable of handling with the agility of a much smaller vehicle and perform U-turns easily on city streets despite its size.
It is lightweight yet feels solid and sturdy due to the strategic welding and intelligent reinforcement in its chassis (a feature Mitsubishi terms as RISE or ‘Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution’), thus improving fuel economy while enhancing all-direction collision safety.
The Xpander’s spirited 16-valve DOHC engine with advanced MIVEC (Mitsubishi Intelligent & Innovative Valve timing & lift Electronic Control system) meanwhile puts ample power at your command, delivering a maximum output of 105 horsepower at 6,000rpm, and a peak torque of 141 Nm at 4,000rpm.
All this power, especially when utilised while the car is in motion, invariably means that a certain level of cabin noise is unavoidable.
Thankfully, sound insulation for the Xpander is incredibly good: ambient noise doesn’t penetrate the cabin anywhere near as much as competitor models, as the passenger compartment is surrounded by special material that effectively absorbs sounds and vibrations.
Tyre noise is also minimal due to the car being fitted with quality Bridgestone Ecopia tyres.
When it comes to safety, the Xpander packs all the punches.
A rear view camera above the tailgate captures a clear view behind the vehicle and appears on the DVD display audio monitor when the shift lever is in reverse, giving the driver peace of mind when backing up the vehicle.
There is also the Pedestrian Protection feature where an impact-absorbing structure is built in at the front of the vehicle to help minimise injuries in the event of a collision with a pedestrian.
All four doors of the car are also equipped with a support beam which enhances passenger protection by helping reduce door deformation in the event of a side collision.