Anyone remembers the Mitsubishi Delica? Yes, the older generations have problems that were complicated to fix which gave them a bad rap. Thing is though, there is a new Delica that has been permanently eclipsed in the shadow of the dominant players such as the Toyota Noah, Toyota Voxy, Nissan Serena and Mazda Biante.
This is surprising given its versatility and strong credentials both off-road and on-road. Of course other factors such as affordability, safety and reliability come into play but even here, the new Delica should be worth a look. Enter the fifth generation Mitsubishi Delica D5, model years from 2007 to today with a pretty sweet facelift in 2019.
This repetition of the series, the D5 inherits and builds on the strengths of the Delica brand philosophy, a people-mover that transports its occupants to their destination in safety and comfort under all driving conditions. Covering running performance, body structure and cabin environment, Delica D5 has undergone a full redesign to a development theme of fusing minivan people-friendliness with SUV robustness and strength.
Historically, the Delica D5 has straddled the line between SUV and minivan with great success. It combines all the desirable features of both worlds into an exciting package that is unmatched by any of its competitors. There is a striking road-presence with all-terrain ride height traditional to the series and a boxy body sitting on large wheels and tyres.
The extremely polarising linear styling treatment produces a handsome and ageless exterior design that almost immediately communicates its functional qualities. Also, the Hummer-style grille sets it apart from anything else around.
The dashboard and console design is simple yet practical, and the Mitsubishi Grandis sourced leather wheel is sturdy, comfortable and simply feels good in hands. The Outlander/Lancer EX style tachometer and speedometer display everything the progressive driver needs in the 21 Century such as trip metre information, temperature, service intervals and so forth.
However, in some areas, you tend to see unpretentious application of function over form. For instance, the number of cup holders to the support handles lined up on the roof-liner.
There are several storage compartments all over the cabin that are useful for storing items such as smartphones, beverages and handbags, among others.
This is a comfortable and spacious van that can seat eight passengers in a three row configuration. At the first row, there’s enough legroom for both the driver and passenger with elevated seats. This tall driving position means great visibility.
Engine, driving dynamics
The popular 2.4 litre engine with 170 horsepower at 600rpm is mated to Mitsubishi’s CVT (available with six-speed Sport Mode) that automatically shifts to the optimal gear ratio for a given engine speed to return superior fuel economy and delivers good response.
The six-speed Sport Mode models are fitted with paddle shifters that allow the driver to change gear manually with both hands on the steering wheel. All Delica D5 models use Mitsubishi’s electronically controlled 4WD system that optimally tailors front/rear wheel torque split to the driving conditions. Some model’s A selector dial next to the shift selector allows the driver to switch between three drive modes: 2WD, 4WD AUTO and 4WD LOCK.
When pushed around corners, the D5’s centre of gravity starts to remind you that this is a family transporter and not a sports sedan. The suspension is not tuned for spirited driving, but rather, to keep everyone asleep for hours on end.
For all its capabilities for a driver who shall fully utilise them, the Mitsubishi Delica D5 should be a rewarding car to own if you can stomach the current unpopularity, willingness to hunt for spare parts and the low resale value. If you want a Multi-Purpose Vehicle with off road capabilities, this is one to get.
On the used car market, the D5 at is not yet at that sweet price to warrant a step away from the customary car purchase choice. However, this is one of the few cars in the market whose true credentials are understated. When stacked up against its competitors, it offers so many compelling features such as the eight-seater capacity, good ground clearance and off-road capability that makes it a clear winner in its category.