When the next-generation Mitsubishi Lancer arrives, it probably will look a little different from the sedan that was last produced for the 2017 model year. Instead, the Japanese automaker is likely to revive the Lancer name, but as a hatchback or small crossover, AutoExpress reports, citing a conversation with Mitsubishi Chief Operating Officer Trevor Mann.
Taking a well-known nameplate and slapping it onto a different body style isn't exactly new for Mitsubishi, with the Eclipse recently morphing from a coupe and convertible into the Eclipse Cross crossover SUV. For the Lancer, Mann sees the C-segment hatchback class as an enticing option, noting robust global sales numbers and growing interesting in China for the segment. That would put the Lancer up against stiff competition like the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf.
As for a potential design direction for next Lancer, Mitsubishi chief designer Tsunehiro Kunimoto says the e-Evolution concept uncovered last fall at the Tokyo Motor Show could serve as a good starting point. Depending on how much they soften it for the production vehicle, it could make for an aggressive and distinctive hatch or small crossover.
News of the Lancer potentially returning as a smaller hatchback or crossover should serve as a sliver of hope for enthusiasts who have lost the Eclipse and most recently the Lancer Evolution. If Mitsubishi's sales momentum continues with its crossovers, maybe that would pave the way for the Evo's return as a hot hatch to take on the Ford Focus RS, Honda Civic Type R and Volkswagen Golf R.