Unlike other Japanese manufacturers that focus on expanding their lineups, Mitsubishi took the opposite route recently, shrinking its offerings to only a handful of models. With the Lancer set to bow at the end of the year, the Mitsubishi range will include only four nameplates in the U.S., plus three more in other markets around the world. Despite that, the brand’s current focus seems to be on new concept cars, with the 2016 Paris Motor Show to bring yet another one into the spotlight.
Called the GT-PHEV, where GT stands for “ground tourer,” the new concept vehicle is described as a high-end next-generation SUV that easily takes many road surface conditions in its stride.” This statement sounds as if Mitsubishi is planning to move toward the premium market with a new high-riding, people hauler, but until further information becomes available, the GT-PHEV is just another concept car in a long line of experimental vehicles that the Japanese brand has unveiled in recent years.
You see, Mitsubishi has launched more concepts than production cars since 2013. It all started with the XR-PHEV, which was followed by the more production-ready XR-PHEV II, the eX, and the GC-PHEV. The XR, GC, and GT are all hybrids, while the eX showcased an all-electric drivetrain. Looking at those concepts, Mitsubishi would have a comprehensive crossover lineup should all be approved for production, but that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon. Meanwhile, the company has the GT-PHEV to brag about at the Paris Motor Show.
Although it’s very tempting to poke fun at Mitsubishi for building concept after concept instead of launching a production car that’s actually new and not just a refurbished platform, I’m not going to ignore the fact this long line of experimental cars will eventually lead to a production model that will be unlike anything else we can buy from this company. I’m not crazy about the GT-PHEV’s design and I’m sure a production version will look rather mundane by comparison, but the hybrid drivetrain and the technology are definitely two features that are worth the wait. Hopefully, the GT-PHEV is more than just a fourth-generation Outlander and Mitsubishi will use it to create a more premium crossover offering. The Japanese brand is in desperate need of a new nameplate and a vehicle that would raise the bar a bit.