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Driven: Mitsubishi Grandis Classic – on sale now



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MPVs are no longer glorified vans with windows. Styling and looks are as important as form and function. Mitsubishi’s new Grandis replaces the anonymous, boxy Space Wagon and the striking styling and quality interior are eons ahead of its predecessor.

The MPV market in Europe is a tough one dominated by the Renault Espace and the Ford Galaxy, but with its clever seating and sporty looks the Grandis could be a contender.

One thing lets the Grandis down – the lack of engine options: it has just a reworked version of Mitsubishi’s faithful 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol. A 2.0-litre pumpe duse diesel from VW will be added to the range, but this won’t be available until July next year.

The 2.4-litre unit is smooth and offers enough power to for happy motorway cruising, but it is let down by the four-speed auto ’box (a £1,000 premium over the manual). Even with the sports mode engaged it takes an age for the power to kick in and the gear ratios mean the engine is either revving its socks off in second or gasping for breath in fourth. Overtaking needs a very long run up.

At 28mpg the Grandis is thirsty – though that’s similar to its rivals – and for most buyers the diesel option will be the more attractive pick.

On the plus side, the Grandis is a relaxing cruiser. The steering is light and doesn’t offer much feedback, but there is plenty of grip and body roll is impressively minimal for such a large vehicle.

And it is large – deceptively large. With a hint of the Toyota Previa in the styling, it is longer than the Galaxy, Espace, C8, Previa and 807, but due to its low roofline and long wheelbase, it doesn’t look or feel cumbersome.

The styling makes it stand out from the crowd and once the diesel engine is available the Grandis range should hit Mitsubishi’s sales target of 2,000 units for 2005.

Strengths: Sharp styling, comfortable
Weaknesses: Auto box not the best around
Opportunity: The best-looking MPV?
Threat: No diesel until next summer
The USP: MPVs can be stylish
Price: £19,499 (Classic)
Engine: 2.4-litre MIVEC 162bhp
Transmission: 4spd automatic
Performance: 0-62mph 11.7sec; top speed 118mph
Efficiency: 28.2mpg, 223g/km CO2
CAP RV (3yr/30k): £7,275/38%
Rivals: Renault Espace, Ford Galaxy, Peugeot 807, Citroen C8, Chrysler Voyager, Toyota Previa

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