Mitsubishi has revealed one of the surprises of the Tokyo Motor Show: an open-sided SUV powered by a four-motor plug-in hybrid gas turbine powertrain.
The MI-Tech concept looks like it’s been milled from one block. It’s brilliantly futuristic and surprisingly aggressive, like a piece of the set in a Robocop remake. We don’t normally approve of skid plates on cars that don’t actually need them, but it just looks right on the MI-Tech.
It sits on vast wheels and tyres, cocooning the two seats between two large buttresses and a windscreen that can double as a full-size head-up ‘augmented reality’ display, showing all sorts of useful off-road related data. There’s no roof, though, so if there’s any chance of rolling over, you’ll want to use the harnesses unless you want to be squashed.
The styling is a key indicator of what Mitsubishi is planning for its next generation of cars and we like it. The thin T-shaped LED headlights and stylish grille, in tandem with chunky wheel arches, really light our candles. Put a roof and doors on it, Mitsubishi, but then leave it as it is.
Under the skin is an advanced plug-in hybrid setup that combines four motors with enough battery capacity for daily urban running. On the internal combustion side there’s a gas turbine that can run on diesel, kerosene or even alcohol, depending on setup. It’s a compact arrangement that could form part of Mitsubishi’s attempts to bring PHEV power to smaller cars. Its emissions are comparatively clean and using a generator in this way is frugal on fuel.
The car will be a bundle of laughs to drive, too. Thanks to the four-motor control it can pull tricks like counter-rotating the wheels on each side, to make the car turn 180 degrees on the spot. Mitsubishi stops short of calling it a true off-roader, instead explaining that the MI-Tech concept is designed to make mincemeat of rough roads.
Also on Mitsubishi’s Tokyo Motor Show stand is a next-generation kei car called the Super Height K-Wagon Concept. We know we’re not the only ones who harbour a secret affection for these narrow, tall, ridiculous and brilliant things.
This little nipper is designed to look a bit like an SUV, if you’re really small and squint a lot. It’s plenty spacious enough for four adults as long as you have no aspirations involving luggage. The concept uses a fetching combination of brown and orange for its ‘family-orientated’ interior.