Theme: Disappointment – 2005 Mitsubishi D:5 Concept Versus The Real Thing

Japanese concept cars are often very strange and often pure flights of fancy. Here is one that sits on the right side of the line separating odd from interesting.

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The 2005 Mitsubishi D:5 (for Delica generation 5) appeared at the Tokyo motor show of that year. It represented a contemporary take on the Delica 4×4 vans that Mitsibishi sold. These little vehicles serve as tradesmen’s mobile tool-boxes and, when outfitted, as small camper vans. The utilitarian roots generally trump the needs of aesthetics. For the 2005 Concept, the vehicle is styled to look functional and recalls some of the rufty-tufty shapes Ford produced for their trucks a little earlier in the decade.

This car deserves praise for the tremendous discipline of the graphics and relationship of parts to the volumes they enclose. It’s very much a product-designer’s sort of shape. As ever we can shed a small tear it never went near production in this form. Of course Mitsubishi know their customers (or do they) and they either saw no demand or didn’t have the money to invest in such a model.

I think it would have been, as shown. a long-term cult seller as a package like this has a ready audience and the style didn’t need re-styling. A decade on this car is still ready for production exactly as it is. Good product design seems to be essentially timeless. Notice the nice way the side-glass is recessed. Is that not redolent of VW’s Up?

For comparison: look at the Ford C-Max’s surface treatment.

Here is the disappointing production version:

2007 Mitsubishi Delica:
2007 Mitsubishi Delica:

The production design lacks all the graphic directness of the concept. It loses the clear expression of the distinction between the bodyside and the centre sections. It goes wrong from the A-pillar forward. On the concept car there’s a clear line all the way around the body side. On the production car this line is lost in the confusion of the lamps and bonnet. Ford was really close to the same idea with C-Max but evidently didn’t want to go for it.

[Slide show credits: 2005 D5 front: caranddrivercom; 2005 D5 rear:; 2005 Ford C-Max:

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

8 thoughts on “Theme: Disappointment – 2005 Mitsubishi D:5 Concept Versus The Real Thing”

  1. Doesn’t look that bad to me. Shame it wasn’t sold here (or was it?).

    1. As it stands the 2007 Delica is not bad. Compared to the D:5 it´s terrible. I don´t know if it was sold in this part of the world. The headlamps are wrong for the rest of the shapes around them.

    2. The concept’s rather like the way the Espace could/should have gone. Yes, the production model is OK, but there appears to be little on the concept that couldn’t have been productionised. But tyou can just hear marketing saying “Hmm, yes, well … look people don’t go for that minimalist stuff. They like a proper grille. Like on a Hummer maybe. Anyway, just make it look a bit more … like other vans.”

  2. Yes, all that is wrong with the Delica is what is conventional. Yet the concept is so refined and believable as it is. It must have tanked in a focus group.

    1. Probably not. It might be more interesting than it first seems. At least the things that normally don’t come to Europe.

      We did have the Lancer hatchback in the “glazed C-pillar” section, didn’t we?

  3. I think the main problem visually here is at the front end, because in the real world they had to make space to actually fit the engine and comply with safety regulation. So yes the concept may look credible/believable but it doesn;t mean that it was actually feasible. And all in not the worst example of transition from concept to production I’ve seen – very far from.

  4. It’d be nice to think honest, fundamental problems robbed the D:5 of its place in the sun. More likely it was a combination of brand managers, timid planners and people with rigidly defined hard-points who said “no” to the theme. Call me cynical…. The actual car looks to have very, very similar proportions.

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