When you think of a rally car, often times you’d picture a Blue Subaru with its iconic gold wheels and “555” livery or a Red and White Mitsubishi with massive spotlights on its front bumper but you’d never picture a 7-seater MPV/crossover as one, would you?
All that is about to change, or rather has changed with the world’s first MPV/crossover Mitsubishi Xpander AP4 rally car as Mitsubishi Motors South Africa puts it.
In case you’re wondering, no, the Xpander is not powered by the 1.5-litre engine paired to a 4-speed auto like the ones coming to Malaysia. Instead, it’s driven by a de-tuned Mitsubishi Evo X engine, which has been downsized from 2.0-litre to 1.6.
Still it’s nothing to belittle as the Xpander AP4 still makes a generous 350 hp and 556 Nm! Power is transferred to the wheels via a 6-speed sequential gearbox, that works with three differential (front, centre, rear) for the most efficient torque distribution.
Like the bonkers exterior that retains the Xpander’s Dynamic Shield design language, but is now slightly widened by the wheel arches with an added roof air scoop. What stands out most is the massive carbon fibre rear wing to keep the Xpander planted at high speeds.
Interesting, the Speedline wheels on the Xpander AP4 are only 15-inch in size, a tad smaller than the 16-inch units in the road-going model.
The cabin is completely unrecognisable from the 7-seater family crossover that’s due for launch in Malaysia. Every single trim and creature comfort has been stripped out to accommodate a complex roll cage, a pair of OMP bucket seats, and a myriad of switches and buttons. The seating position of the Xpander AP4 has been moved further back, to achieve a weight distribution of 55:45.
Indonesian Rally Driver Rifat Sungkar said the Xpander was chosen to be converted into a rally car due its well sorted chassis and popularity in Indonesia and the South East Asian region.
The car took 6-7 months to develop and build from scratch by Mitsubishi Motors New Zealand and will participate in the AP4 (Asia Pacific 4) category, the highest in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, hence the name Xpander AP4.
While it’s unlikely that future Xpander owners can achieve such levels of modification, it’ll surely sweeten the notion of owning a road-going Xpander, knowing well that it’s providing the very basis of a fire-breathing rally car – just like the old Lancer Evolution days.
Watch our FULL REVIEW with a twist of the new Mitsubishi Xpander as it is hosted by Indonesia’s top motoring journalist, Fitra Eri.