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Car confidential: Mitsubishi deal hands PSA SUVs

Peugeot Citroen parent PSA is linked with more partners than Kate Moss. Engine deals with Ford and BMW, joint-developed vans and MPVs with Fiat.

And now, just as French group has given birth to its baby conceived with Toyota, it shacks up with Mitsubishi.

The agreement, set to be ratified next month, will parachute PSA into the SUV field in 2007. Pretty fast moving for a group with no four-wheel drive cars and a rigid, front-wheel drive platform strategy.

PSA is hijacking the next-generation Mitsubishi Outlander, the new crossover SUV to be launched next year. The Mitsubishi, claimed to be ultra-stylish by insiders, will get a nose job and butt tuck to adopt Citroen and Peugeot’s corporate looks. Inside, the Outlander has a key difference from today’s model: seven seats.

The Outlander MkII is based on the all-new GS platform, co-developed with Chrysler and previewed under the Dodge Caliber concept. While that Geneva hatchback was front-wheel drive, the platform needs four-wheel drive capability, as it’s bound for the Evo X as well as the Outlander. Torque is permanently split between both axles.

The new petrol engines also come from the DCX joint venture. The four-cylinder family comes in 1.8, 2.0 and 2.4-litre. Crucially, considering the Gallic love affair with the oilburner, there will be diesel power, too. The Mitsubishi launches with the Grandis’ 2.0-litre TDi, but it could ultimately get the 2.2-litre HDi from the French.

Mitsubishi will build 30,000 units a year for PSA in its Japanese factory, split equally between the two brands. With the UK expected to take up to 8000 Outlanders, PSA is being cautious with its expectations. But Mitsubishi will be glad of the extra volume, helping to boost economies of scale.

In today’s tough climate, the deal looks like a smart bit of business – for both parties.

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