2005 Frankfurt Auto Show Index by TCC Team (9/5/2005)
Using the marketing slogan, “Drive Alive,” Mitsubishi unveiled a new but anticipated Concept-Sportback, which offers a glimpse of what the next-generation Lancer — or at least one of its bodystyles — will be like. The aggressively styled five-door sports hatchback — a body style said to comprise about 60 percent of the European market — was designed by Mitsubishi Design Europe but is, as a press release says, “adaptable for all world markers.” About 177 inches long and riding on a 103.5-inch wheelbase, the model would be made with variants in front or four-wheel drive, and a wide range of diesel and gasoline four-cylinder engines, though the primary powerplant will the global gasoline four developed jointly with DaimlerChrysler and Hyundai. The Concept-Sportback uses an all-new platform, to be used by the next-generation Lancer as well as the Outlander and others, the first of which will premiere in early 2007, according to the automaker.
Mitsubishi also said that its global recovery is well underway in the European market and in Germany. Overall in Europe, sales have increased 20 percent versus last year, with a 37-percent sales spike in Germany. Sales in that market especially suffered after DaimlerChrysler opted out of its long-term platform-development partnership with Mitsu. In Europe, the Colt model continues to outsell both the competing Toyota Yaris and Honda Jazz models in the market. The automaker has seven new models for Europe to be introduced over three years, five more new models for North America for model years ’06 to ’08, and nine new models to be introduced in its home market Japan.
DaimlerChrysler’s smart brand introduced an all-new concept that, based on what was hinted, shows promise for the U.S.
market. The crosstown is claimed to be a “complete reinterpretation” of the smart’s basic structure; it builds on the fortwo’s underpinnings but with a completely new body design that’s considerably boxier and “rugged” styling cues—like exposed latches and rivets—that borrow from off-road vehicles.
With an overall length of about 105 inches, only slightly longer than the fortwo’s 98 inches, the crosstown still would be extremely diminutive for U.S. city streets—comparing more in size to a golf cart than a typical “small car.” The shape appears more upright and boxy than the fortwo, and 16-inch tri-spoke wheels that huge and Hot Wheels-like in proportion to the small body.
An especially standout feature of the crosstown is its movable windshield. In addition to the conventional folding convertible top, the windshield pivots forward and down and stows away completely under the hood for a completely open-air experience—but likely not one that would make it into a production car. The crosstown’s 16-inch tri-spoke wheels look huge in proportion to the small body.
Inside, the dash layout has been completely reworked as well to show how it might be made to meet U.S.
regulations. The instrument panel design has more conventional (think Jeep meets Mattel) look, with a very large glovebox with switches mounted right on the lid. Ready interfaces are provided for USB devices and common PDAs. The interior leather is given an intentionally used look, and the pedals are styled with the tread pattern from mountain bike tires.