Olivier Boulay, who has designed for both DaimlerChrysler and Subaru, had only been at Mitsubishi for six months, when he proudly posed at the Tokyo Motor Show with four totally new concept cars.

These were the SUP (Sports Utility Package), the Space Liner and two alternative suggestions for the future Z compact, the CZ2 and the CZ3 Tarmac. “Compacts are intrinsic to Mitsubishi history”, declared Boulay, who was thinking about the little Colt of the late Seventies. The CZ2 was entirely designed in Europe, though the sportier CZ3 Tarmac was created by the home design team in Japan.

The French-born designer said he had taken particular care to establish a Japanese identity for the brand. “I have made it clear that our design approach should be based on the specific heritage of Mitsubishi. That is a message we intend to promote by creating more space for the triple diamond badge on the front”.

Both the CZ2 and the CZ3 Tarmac offer hints about the design of the future production model. “But they are not pre-production prototypes”, insists Boulay.The SUP represents an interesting departure from the traditional image of the sports utility vehicle. It might look like a sporty hatchback at first glance, though its size and its four wheel drive make it a fully-fledged offroader.

By contrast, the Space Liner could hardly be more overtly Japanese. Described as a new generation recreational vehicle, the Space Liner offers an interior which has little in common with the architecture of any ordinary MPV. The Space Liner in fact is almost as long as a limousine (4900 mm) with a 2950 mm wheelbase.”The very fact of coming up with these four concepts in just three months, shows just how good Mitsubishi’s designers are”, concludes Boulay.

The article continues in Auto & Design no. 131

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