Mitsubishi Choosing a people carrier is to some people something of a necessity rather than a pleasure, but thankfully over the last few years manufacturers have realised that having a family doesn’t mean that you lose your sense of style or your desire to drive with a bit of gusto. The Grandis, from Mitsubishi is one of these more forward-thinking people carriers. Radically styled and agile to drive, it suffered slightly in this and many European markets because it lacked a diesel engine, a factor that has become increasingly important in recent years as the diesel revolution continues at an unrelenting pace.
The Grandis should be considered as a slightly upmarket people carrier. Talking to the folks in Mitsubishi Ireland, they tell me that, of the Grandis they have already sold (they do about 40-50 a year), there are a variety of customers from differing backgrounds and car history choosing the radical looking people carrier. They might have owned the brilliant, but now extinct Galant, or perhaps the Space Wagon. Some might be new to the MPV segment but don’t want to drive something that makes them feel like their motoring life is over, as so often can be the case with bus-like people carriers.
There is certainly nothing dull about the design of the Grandis. It is, for us, one of, if not the best-looking people carriers on the market. It also is one of the most car-like to drive and previous experience with the 2.4litre automatic told me that it shifts too. The 2.0-litre diesel is, sadly, not going to be offered with an automatic transmission, but with a six-speed manual (which I will get back to later).The engine itself is a unit that we have praised before, when it has featured in everything from the Passat, to the Audi A4. So how is it in the Grandis? Well the first impressions were by-and-large very positive. Our German test route was a combination of fast motorways and windy back roads.
The motorway driving revealed that the 2.0-litre unit seemed throatier than we were used to from the possibly better insulated VWs or Audis. The gearing of the Mitsubishi manual also seemed a little amiss when mated to this VW diesel. It was fine when you gathered momentum and rested the car at motorway pace in top gear, but should an errant lane-changer or slow moving traffic hamper your progress, changing down was less smooth and this was further illustrated on the back roads, where I found myself hunting between 4th, 5th and 6th gears to get the right balance between having enough torque to pull me round a bend and not blowing the engine up. You got a lump of power and then nothing as you changed up. Granted, that this won’t matter to most folk on school runs and daily errands, but it begs the question – why have they not given us an automatic?
In terms of handling and dynamics, the Grandis is surprisingly agile; hardly surprising since it comes from the company that gives us the Lancer Evolution. As a people carrier the Grandis comes with either six or seven seats and there is cleverly named Hide and Seat seating system which, very much like the Opel Zafira allows you to fold the rearmost row of seats into the floor when not in use. All the rear seats can fold and slide and do the usual trickery, but we did have issue with the space in the second row of seats. Taller adults will feel a little cramped even with the seats slid back the whole way. Again, if your passengers are kids this won't be too much of an issue. At under €40,000, the D-ID Grandis is pretty well priced. Considering it is a proper large MPV, then its main rivals are the likes of the Chrysler Voyager, Hyundai Trajet and Citroen C8.It under cuts the likes of the Renault Espace too.
Compared to these, the Grandis makes an attractive choice. Where it faces problems will be whether buyers really need their MPVs to be this big anymore. If you are after a large MPV then this is the prettiest and the most car-like of these larger beasts. However, if you occasionally need the seven seats then for me, you are going to spend €36,495 on the new Opel Zafira 1.9 CDTi SRi. The new Zafira is my best in segment and with most buyers likely to want to spend €25,000 - €35,000, then the Grandis will remain a relatively choice, but certainly a worthy one. The new model arrives in Ireland in late September.
Mitsubishi Grandis 2.0 DI-D
Engine 1968cc 4-cyl turbo diesel, 136bhp, 310Nm torque
Boot Capacity 320-litres
Acceleration 0-100km/h 10.8secs
Top Speed 195 km/h Price €36,995
Transmission Six-speed manual, FWD Economy 6.6 l/100km / 42.8mpg