Driven: Mitsubishi Xpander

Me, I’m a panda. This compact seven-seater MPV from Mitsubishi? It’s an Xpander. No relation.

What is it?
I already said. It’s a compact seven-seater van, but, and this part is crucial, one I could happily own. See, it doesn’t suffer the ride-sharable looks of those who came before it, specifically the Toyota Avanza and Suzuki Ertiga. And it now fully replaces the Honda BR-V as the one I reckon looks and feels the most like the kind of car you’d actually want to own.

How does it look?
In a word, ‘styled’. You see it too right? It debuted at the Indonesia Auto Show in 2016 and so stirred onlookers that 11,000 pre-orders were placed. And I can see why, it’s an attractive people mover, with Mitsubishi’s Dynamic Shield (the loft title for their grille) dominating the frontend. With 16″ inch alloy hoops in each gaping wheel arch you might even accuse it of having some curbside presence, certainly a fist in this segment. With its 205mm ground clearance, it isn’t shy of gravel either.

What about living with it?
Hop aboard and the compact dimensions are immediately felt. It’s not cramped, Mitsubishi seem to have learned loads from Suzuki and Daihatsu about turning small interiors to roomy living spaces. Toys abound, including automatic air conditioning with a rear overhead cooler, electric windows all round, a USB port, Bluetooth and a rear-view camera. It’s practical and versatile so liveability is high. There’s flexible seating, and a 60/40 split across the middle and rear rows of seats, not to mention a floor box for even more storage. Safety hasn’t been skimped thanks to airbags for both driver and passenger, ABS with EBD, seatbelt pre-tensioners and Isofix child anchorage points.

How does it go?
Here beats the puny 1.5l heart of an engine, paired with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission. It boasts 77kW and 141Nm, which is enough. It’s just enough. Especially here at the coast. Fuel consumption is claimed at 7.0l/100 km but I somehow finessed mine to 6.8l/100km.

Should you buy one?
I really enjoyed this super versatile seven-seater mini MPV from Mitsubishi. And then there’s the fact that it swallowed my 29er mountain bike with the front wheel on. That it does all this for under R300k is a revelation. Burgeoning families and active couple-types, take note. Oh, and ride-sharers, if you’re feeling fancy.

Quick Stats: Mitsubishi Xpander
Price: R319,995
Powertrain: 1.5l fwd,  77kW, 141Nm, 4-speed auto
Performance: 7.0l/100km fuel consumption

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