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An ‘XForce’ to be reckoned with

An ‘XForce’ to be reckoned with

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What’s the deal with Mitsubishi Motors Philippines’ upcoming crossover?

by VJ Bacungan

Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation (MMPC) is not only the longest-running car company in the country, but has also consistently maintained a comfortable second-place spot in the annual sales charts.

The Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc., which is the country’s largest association of car brands, reported a record-breaking 429,807 vehicles sold in 2023. The lion’s share, of course, went to Toyota Motor Philippines, which sold 200,031 cars or 46.54 percent of the market.

In second position was the “Diamond Star” brand with 78,371 units, constituting around 18 percent of the entire local automotive market. This was buoyed by the Xpander and Xpander Cross, which are the best-selling seven-seat, multi-purpose vehicles (MPV) in the Philippines.

MMPC also sells popular albeit aging models like the Mirage and Mirage Hatchback, as well as the Montero Sport. However, the all-new Triton that was launched earlier this year is expected to deliver a big bump in sales.

But another model that many are looking out for is the upcoming Mitsubishi Xforce – this is MMPC’s first foray into the hotly contested subcompact crossover segment since the demise of the ASX many moons ago.

Radical styling, familiar underpinnings

But if you peel off the pretty body, you find the proven mechanicals of the Xpander. The Xforce in other markets uses the MPV’s 1.5-liter, twin-cam, 16-valve inline-4 gasoline engine that produces 103 horsepower and 141 Newton-meters of torque, which is mated to a continuously variable transmission.

Other nifty features confirmed by MMPC for the local model include Active Yaw Control (already standard in the Xpander Cross) that helps improve cornering, the company’s first-ever “Wet” driving mode that provides added stability in rainy conditions and a bespoke surround-sound system co-developed with Yamaha.

What’s it up against?

The Mitsubishi Xforce is 4,390 millimeters long, 1,810 millimeters wide, 1,660 millimeters tall and has a 2,650-millimeter wheelbase.

This makes it slightly larger than rivals like the Toyota Yaris Cross and non-turbocharged variants of the Honda HR-V and Kia Seltos. It is also in the firing line of Chinese subcompact crossovers like the excellent GAC GS3 Emzoom, which packs 70 more horsepower from its turbocharged 1.5-liter inline-4 engine.

Assuming MMPC puts the top-spec Xforce at around the P1.3-million mark, it certainly has a chance among its more established competition. It also offers current sedan owners a place to step up to a larger Mitsubishi, but don’t need the bulk of the Xpander, Montero Sport or Triton.

In other markets, the Xforce has been selling briskly – Indonesian news outlets reported that Mitsubishi’s funky crossover has sold over 2,000 units locally since its debut, with Mitsubishi Motors Indonesia targeting 20,000 sales by the end of 2024.

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Although the Philippines is a smaller market, the Xforce seems like another feather in MMPC’s cap and will, at the very least, close the gaping chasm between it and long-time rival Toyota.

The electrification question

Speaking of Toyota, the Yaris Cross is also available as a hybrid-electric vehicle, which is in line with the Japanese carmaker’s vision of blending hybrid-electric and battery-electric vehicles (EV).

The Honda HR-V already has a hybrid version in other markets (and is rumored to be arriving in the Philippines sometime this year). Even MG Philippines, with its vast lineup of battery EVs, is also getting into the hybrid game with the recently launched MG3 subcompact hatchback.

MMPC was actually among the first to bring in hybrid vehicles locally with the Outlander PHEV, which was the world’s first plug-in hybrid EV. However, there is no word yet of a hybrid Xforce, which would greatly benefit from the zero tariffs that were recently introduced under Executive Order No. 12.

Nonetheless, Mitsubishi Motors said it is eyeing an electrified version of the Xforce sometime in the future. Then perhaps, its hot little crossover could really stick it to Toyota and Honda.