Mitsubishi Xpander AP4 – crossover turned rally car with 350 hp/556 Nm Evolution X engine, all-wheel drive – paultan.org
When you think of a rally car, the first thing that comes to your mind is a small hatchback, right? Or at most, a family sedan. But a seven-seater crossover? That’s exactly what Mitsubishi Motors Indonesia did, taking the Xpander and turning it into a gravel stage monster.
Meet the Mitsubishi Xpander AP4, which will soon be raced by the Xpander Rally Team in the archipelago. Developed by Team Ralliart New Zealand, it was built to AP4 specification – essentially the Australasian version of the FIA’s R5 category. This class of rally car was conceived to allow vehicles to be developed locally rather than being imported from Europe, saving on import duties.
If R5 sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same spec that the Proton Iriz R5 is built to. That’s why the body modifications are fairly similar – the already striking body of the Xpander has been festooned further with boxy wheel arch extensions, a deep front air dam, a roof scoop and a massive goalpost-style rear wing.
In the interest of weight saving, the interior has been gutted, and the seven seats have been jettisoned. In their place are a pair of OMP bucket seats, six-point harnesses, an OMP steering wheel, a hydraulic handbrake and a full chromoly six-point roll cage.
Another similarity with the Iriz R5 can be found under the bonnet. The AP4 is powered by the same 4B11T turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine from the Lancer Evolution X, albeit sleeved and with a shorter stroke to reduce the capacity from 2.0 litres to 1.6. This is to keep the car within the regulations, but even with this and an inlet air restrictor, this curious vehicle develops 350 hp and 556 Nm of torque.
Power is sent to all four wheels through a six-speed Sadev sequential transmission and mechanical front, rear and centre differentials (active differentials, like the ones used in the Evolution models, are banned due to cost concerns). The suspension is adjustable for bump and rebound damping for both low and high speeds, and depending on the surface, the AP4 will either be jacked up on knobbly tyres or slammed on massive wheels and low-profile tarmac tyres.
So, why spend all that money converting the Xpander into a rally car? Well, according to driver Rifat Sungkar, the Xpander possesses a good chassis balance; the company also said that it proves the Xpander is an attractive vehicle that can be used in any situation. In any case, the AP4 shows the aesthetic and performance potential of the car, even though it’s highly unlikely that any buyer will come close to reaching it.
No, unless you’re really determined and had bottomless pockets, you probably won’t be able to get your hands on the AP4. But you will be able to get your hands on the standard Xpander very soon – and be in the knowledge that your car was the basis for one of the most unique rally cars out there.
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