By Steve & Tamami Laser; with Nahoko Osuka reporting from Japan
We’re always amazed with the wide variety of mini vehicles, also known as “Kei cars” on the streets of Japan. While Honda continues to top the sales charts with its popular N-BOX, Mitsubishi has launched a bold new challenger that really stands out from the pack.
The Mitsubishi eK X (pronounced “eK cross”) is the new top-line model in the automaker’s revamped eK lineup that also includes the more conservatively styled eK Wagon. As the first major redesign in six years, the eK series continues to be produced by NMKV, a joint venture with Nissan Motor Corp.
The new eK series, and its Nissan DAYZ cousins, ride on all-new platforms, feature new engines and transmissions, and offer new and enhanced features. While the models share key components, they retain separate brand identities and features.
Mitsubishi says the eK X was developed with the “Cute Beast” concept that merges the automaker’s signature Dynamic Shield front styling with crossover cues to project a sense of “SUV power and toughness.” The wide grille with chrome bars is flanked by vertically stacked three-lens LED headlight clusters.
Black wheel arches and rocker panel moldings, along with available roof rails, add to the ambience. Tall rear combination lamps that flow from the C-pillars, and a rear spoiler contribute to the sporty look. Two-tone color combinations with contrasting roofs are also available.
New powertrains include a normally aspirated 660cc 3-cylinder 12-valve DOHC engine, plus a turbocharged variant, coupled to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), and a choice of two- or four-wheel drive. A standard Hybrid system uses electric power stored in the drive battery to assist engine-generated torque. During deceleration, Mitsubishi says the system recovers kinetic energy and uses it to charge the lithium-ion drive battery.
While Kei cars have a small footprint, the interiors of tall-roof models like eK X are remarkably roomy. The dash employs Mitsubishi’s Horizontal Axis theme for a sleek, uncluttered appearance. Auto climate control includes a touch-panel for convenience.
We like the look of the instrument cluster, with its easy to read displays featuring bright graphics, and colors that enhance its appearance in the dark.
The Multi Information Display includes an Eco Pedal Guide (above left), that shows how hard the driver is pressing on the accelerator, and a Wheel Angle indicator that highlights the turning direction of the wheels during parking maneuvers.
With its black-tone color scheme and sporty blue accents, eK X seats are trimmed with “crinkled fabric” and a honeycomb embossed finish. Mitsubishi says that rear seat knee room has been extended by 70mm to allow passengers to sit with legs crossed even with the front seats all the way back.
The optional Premium Interior package includes a different look with black-and-tan trim using multi-material fabrics and a striped pattern.
Among the list of eK X options is an in-car infotainment system with a big, bright 9-inch display screen. This is the largest screen yet to be offered in eK models.
A Multi-Around Monitor is another option that displays a bird’s-eye view of the vehicle providing the driver with the ability to check the vehicle’s surroundings while parking.
Mitsubishi Intelligent PILOT (MI-PILOT) is a new, optional single-lane semi-autonomous driver assistance technology. Other available safety features include Active Cruise Control, Lane Keep Assist, Grip Control, Forward Collision Mitigation braking, Automatic High Beam, and Lane Departure Prevention.
MSRPs for the new eK X in Japan run from ¥1,414,800 (about $12,700) for the base M 2WD model to ¥1,765,800 (about $15,800) for the top T 4WD turbo.
The Mitsubishi eK wagon, eK X, Nissan DAYZ and DAYZ Highway Star, are produced by NMKV at Mitsubishi’s Mizushima plant in Kurashiki, Japan.
For more product information visit the Mitsubishi Motors consumer website in Japan
Fore more information about the joint venture visit NMKV
News source, photos and videos courtesy Mitsubishi Motors Corp.
Vehicle features, specifications and prices for Japan market models is subject to change without notice. Prices include consumption tax but do not include recycling fees, insurance, other taxes or registration costs.
Story (text and commentary) © 2019 CarNichiWa.com