Text and photos by Aries B. Espinosa

THE hype that had been brewing since late last year was finally served hot and fresh on the night of March 1. That was when Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation (MMPC) finally unveiled the all-new, seven-seat Xpander.

Some call it a crossover SUV, others an MPV, but MMPC is unanimously confident in predicting that it will jump to the top of the sales leader board in both categories. And if the phenomenal sales and reservation frenzy over the Xpander in Indonesia is an indicator of what the competition is facing (MMPC first vice-president for vehicle sales and marketing Froilan G. Dytianquin revealed that 50,000 Xpanders have already been reserved there), then there is, indeed, reason for Mitsubishi executives to stretch their smiles that much more. This early, Mr. Dytianquin disclosed that 1,500 reservations for the Xpander have been placed.

And that was before the three-day “Xpander Xpo” at the World Trade Center that was visited by over 15,000 people.

The Philippines being the second country to introduce the Xpander after the Indonesian debut, expectations have been set high, as evidenced by the presence of top executives from Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, such as its corporate vice-president and general manager of design division, Tsunehiro Kunimoto, who explained the “omotenashi” concept for the Xpander’s interior layout and space.

Mitsubishi Xpander 2
Rear of the Xpander designed to accommodate a third row of seats.

Space is the main selling point for the Xpander. Apart from the 1.5-liter MIVEC engine that generates 105 hp at 6,000 rpm and 141 Nm at 4,000 rpm (and mated to either a four-speed automatic transmission or a newly developed five-speed manual transmission), class-leading high ground clearance of 205 millimeters, and the aggressive lines of the exterior, it’s what’s inside the 2,480-millimeter-long, 1,411-millimeter-wide and 1,310-millimeter-high Xpander that is expected to reel the buyers in.

Its claim of class-leading space is sweetened with Xpander-exclusive amenities, such as flat-folding rear seats (no bumps or gaps when all rows are folded), large second-row center armrest folded to accommodate long items, a front passenger under-seat tray, driver seat back with various-sized pockets, center console box with a 12-volt power outlet, and third-row seats with side pocket.

Prices for the four variants of the Xpander are: P885,000 for the GLX M/T; P960,000 for the GLX Plus A/T; P995,000 for the GLS A/T; and P1,060 million for the GLS Sport.