It looks like the Mitsubishi Lancer is about to undertake a daring transformation from a ten-year-old sedan to a crossover. The Eclipse has already shed its coupe roots and become the Eclipse Cross, and now it's the Lancer's turn to become a high-rider.
The carmaker already teased its future plans with the e-Evolution concept last year (pictured above), again combining a previously successful Mitsubishi nameplate with new crossover intentions. Now, talking to AutoExpress, Mitsubishi's chief operating officer and chief designer both hint of the Lancer taking the shape of the e-Evolution.
For Mitsubishi, the Lancer's segment still looks very viable in the next decade, but it doesn't necessarily want to fight the Ford Focus and the VW Golf with a conventional hatchback, let alone a three-box saloon. "We believe we have a solution that could fit the segment", said COO Trevor Mann. "[The segment's] numbers are still expanding in China, so there's appeal. And I think because the segment is so large globally, we've got to take a look at it."
The chief designer, Tsunehiro Kunimoto said, "Just because it's C-segment, it doesn't mean it has to be a very conventional hatchback. Maybe we can create a new type of hatchback vehicle. We're thinking quite radically." It is also likely that the Lancer's eventual replacement will use hybrid technology and a Renault-Nissan Alliance platform — and an all-wheel-drive option would still be a nod to the Lancer Evo's heritage, at least partially justifying any use of the Evolution brand.
Trevor Mann says the product timeline is largely set until 2025, and the existing crossovers in the portfolio, the Outlander and the Outlander Sport (known elsewhere as the ASX) will get replacements. The company is now directing its attention to the Lancer and the Montero, both of which have last had a major update over ten years ago. The Lancer was phased out in the U.S. last fall after a very long run.