Fancy a cut-price Mondeo? Mitsubishi is readying a hatchback version of its Lancer family car for launch later this year – and will drop a few clues with this Prototype-S at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2008.
Called Lancer Sportback, the production car will be a classic five-door, although you can bank on removing the wilder excesses of the side sills, aggressive snout spoiler and bonnet air vents on bread-and-butter models. However, this sporty-looking show car suggests that Mitsubishi is toying with an Evo X version of the hatchback. And why not? The two bodystyles use exactly the same mechanical underpinnings, and it could broaden the appeal of the hardcore Evo - especially in Europe, a market obsessed with hatchback practicality. The official line at the moment is that the Evo X will only be sold as a saloon, however.
Mitsubishi’s hatchback plan
The arrival of the five-door should increase Lancer sales dramatically. Seventy percent of sales in Europe will be the hatchback, topping 80 percent in the UK. Mitsubishi says the Sportback will have a ‘flexible rear seating’ system, suggesting that the rear bench will slide and recline to juggle space for luggage and limbs.
Powering the Prototype-S is the Lancer Ralliart engine and drivetrain: a 237bhp 2.0-litre turbo, mated tot he twin-clutch SST gearbox and Evo-derived four-wheel drive system, including its active centre differential to mastermind traction issues.
Prototype-S: the leftfield rivals
The company has (allegedly) benchmarked some unusual cars , including the Alfa Romeo 159 Sportwagon and Saab 900 Turbo Combi-Coupe, suggesting it has identified an unusual niche for the five-door Lancer. Despite it looking remarkably like a normal five-door Euro-normal hatchback.
CAR Online will be reporting live from the Geneva Motor Show on Tuesday 4 March 2008. Log on over the next few weeks for previews of the important cars – and we’ll have a full multimedia report live from Switzerland in March.