This example hoved into the gloomy car park of a shopping centre near me.
Although barely known in Europe it is one of those world cars with a basket of names and functions. It has had eight badges attached to it and has been propelled by eight engines. It’s the Mitsubishi L300.
In Europe the most likely engines for this variant are the 1.6 litre petrol or 2.5 litre diesel engine. For certain markets there is a 4wd version of the vehicle which, I am told has a certain cult following.
If you look inside this one you find captain’s chair and a kitchenette in the back. It has sliding doors so that once you have driven to your location you can open up the side, crack open a beer and enjoy the view. Haven’t we seen this idea presented as a concept car trope by Renault at some point, and also by Citroen? Well, albeit in a rather severe package, here is that very idea.
If you think about it this very much a perfect family car. It can not only take you and the flock to various places but can allow you to be there as well, offering a mobile base for adventures or simply getting some air and some new scenery. While large on the inside it has a length of a mere 4.3 metres so it’s easy to drive around. It’s not wide either. In contrast the comparatively useless CUV’s don’t have sliding doors, are larger and heavier and less useful every which way.
The interior photo shows one of the 4Wd versions, and an American market specification. It’s fairly representative though.
Mitsubishi’s problem is not engineering, it’s marketing. Here, in 1986 is the lifestyle car we probably really need. Add 4WD (optional). This is what people needed if they didn’t want estates or saloons. Mitsubishi could not find a way to sell it, along with their other good ideas. (Having written about the Carisma I see them everywhere and really, it’s a perfectly fine-looking car which needed a suspension upgrade and a couple more engines and an estate).
The industry has followed the path of least resistance and found it easier to jack up mid-sized hatchbacks and call them a whole new way of life.