The Mitsubishi Express was a popular van until it ceased production in 2014. After a six-year hiatus the Express badge is making a comeback.
The 2021 Mitsubishi Express is manufactured by Renault in France and is a product of the global Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance and is essentially a re-styled Renault Trafic. Available in Australia in both short and long wheelbase versions, the Express also comes with a choice of two engines as well as manual and automated transmissions.
The Mitsubishi Express adds another viable option to the healthy Australian van market for couriers and tradies and the automated transmission versions should also find interest in the rental vehicle category.
The Mitsubishi Express is available with a 1.6L twin turbo diesel engine or a 2.0L single turbo diesel engine. The 1.6L engine delivers 103kW of power and 340Nm of torque and is only available with a six-speed manual transmission.
A six-speed dual clutch automated manual transmission is standard with the 2.0L diesel which punches out 125kW of power and 380Nm of torque. The advantages of the dual clutch transmission include fuel efficiency and Co2 emissions similar to an equivalent manual vehicle, coupled with the convenience and safety of an automatic.
Our test vehicle is a long wheelbase 2.0 litre with the automated transmission which impresses with its ultra-fast and smooth shifting which is a product of the dual clutch technology. The driver has the option to use the gear selector as a sporty sequential transmission if they so desire and manually clicking back a gear or two on steep descents helps control the speed.
All versions of the Express are front wheel drive which influences the turning circles of 11.8 metres for the short wheelbase and 13.2 metres for the long wheelbase models.
Access to the load space is through sliding doors located on each side and the glazed rear barn doors which are fitted with 85 degree and 160 degree stops as well as dual wipers.
The rear bumper has an integrated step to enable easier loading and unloading and the rear floor has a sturdy looking vinyl mat and plenty of load anchors.
The load area volume is 5.2 cubic metres in the short wheelbase models and 6.0 cubic metres in the long wheelbase versions with Gross Vehicle Mass ratings up to 3,070 kgs.
Long load items such as pipes or timber up to 4.5 metres in length can be accommodated in the long wheelbase models by accessing space beneath the passenger seat and into the foot well, although this feature is negated if a cargo barrier is fitted.
The Express has seating for three adults and the driver’s seat has a retractable armrest and manual height and lumbar adjustments.
The steering wheel has height and reach adjustments so almost any driver can make themselves comfortable. Front seat belt pretensioners are included in the standard package and there are five airbags: driver and passenger front and curtain airbags, in addition to a driver thorax airbag.
The standard audio unit is enabled for Bluetooth and USB connection, providing hands free telephone operation and music streaming and there is an integrated smartphone cradle which caters for standard sized phones.
Device charging can be achieved using the 12-volt socket as well as another USB connection on the top of the dash.
Standard features include cruise control and the Express also has a handy adjustable speed limiter which helps the driver comply with varying speed zones such as those located near schools.
The fuel saving automatic engine ‘stop and go’ system can be deactivated via a switch on the dash but we find its operation to be smooth without eating up any time so having the engine shut off when stationary at places such as traffic lights is a benefit rather than a nuisance.
The hill start assist operates by holding the brakes for up to two seconds to give the driver time to move their foot from one pedal to another and works in both manual and automatic versions.
Also standard are rear parking sensors and the automated transmission models also receive a rear view camera which displays on a small screen located in the centre rear vision mirror.
Safety systems include four wheel disc brakes with Antilock Braking Systems (ABS), Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and traction control plus the automatic models receive fog lamps, dusk sensing automatic headlights and rain sensing windscreen wipers.
The fuel tank has an 80-litre capacity and the AdBlue tank holds 25 litres which means it doesn’t need to be topped up every time the Express is at the diesel pump.
The original Mitsubishi Express L300 vans were very successful and examples can still be seen around the country often covered in colorful graffiti as they continue to be a transport of choice for back packers.
With its solid European heritage this new Express has the potential to become as much of a legend as its original namesake.