• Mitsubishi is synonymous with rallying, boasting 12 wins in the Dakar Rally.
• Mitsubishi says the MPV-based rally car is following in the tracks of Pajero, most successful Dakar model yet.
• The new Xpander AP4 is set to take part in its first rally event before end of 2020.
In early 2021, Mitsubishi South Africa will introduce a seven-seat MPV called the Xpander to the local market. Over in Indonesia, the country's distributor for light commercial and passenger Mitsubishi vehicles launched the Xpander Rally Team (XRT) in July 2019.
The result is the Xpander AP4, a rally car based on the MPV. It underwent its first trial at the Tembong Jaya circuit, Serang, Banten in July 2020.
The company has a strong rally link and won the Dakar Rally no less than 12 times between 1985 and 2007 with its Pajero.
Mitsubishi uses the motorsport events to test vehicle performance, driving pleasure, comfort and of course safety features.
"The valuable experience and knowledge developed through participation in motorsport proved excellent feedback for the development of all Mitsubishi Motors models,” says Nic Campbell, general manager of Mitsubishi Motors South Africa.
The Xpander AP4 made its debut in Indonesia with the display of the Xpander AP4 Concept at the IIMS automotive exhibition in April 2019. Just three months later, in July 2019, the Xpander AP4 was again displayed at the automotive exhibition as prototype.
The Xpander AP4 then went through rigorous research and development at Ralliart New Zealand as a rally car.
After the mandatory homologation process, the Xpander AP4, based on Mitsubishi’s new crossover that is expected in South Africa early in 2021, has finally arrived in Indonesia.
The Xpander AP4 rally version underwent trials on gravel for the first time in Indonesia. XRT racer and Mitsubishi Motors Indonesia Brand Ambassador, Rifat Sungkar, said: "I was satisfied with our first trial of our Mitsubishi Xpander AP4 at the Tembong Jaya Circuit, Serang, recently. During 100km of testing we received authentic data about every aspect of the vehicle’s performance, in the car – from the engine and transmission to the suspension and chassis."
The Xpander AP4 will be tested on an asphalt surface in the near future, after which the vehicle will be prepped to participate in an Indonesian sprint rally championship event towards the end of the year.
"As far as South Africa goes, one of the most anticipated newcomers in the Mitsubishi stable is that the Xpander compact MPV will be making its local debut early in 2021. This vehicle, which will only be available in 4x2, will be powered by a 1.5-litre petrol engine coupled to manual or automatic transmission and is expected to be the quietest in its class," says Campbell.