Mitsubishi aims to soften its image with new compact crossover

Mitsubishi Motors today announced that it would introduce a new compact crossover model next year. First sales will be in Japan in February 2010.

Although details of the new car are sparse, it seems that this is Mitsubishi's competitor for Nissan's hugely influential Qashqai, which pioneered the concept of a Golf-class people carrier/SUV crossover when it was introduced in 2007.

Mitsubishi says that the new car will supports its “strategic shift from being an SUV-focused nameplate to a manufacturer of environment-friendly passenger cars and crossovers”, although it doesn't look as though it is completely abandoning the SUV market, where its Shogun models have a long-established presence.

Mitsubishi hasn't yet revealed any details of the new car's drive-train, so it's not yet clear whether it will join the recent trend to treating four-wheel drive as an optional extra on SUVs and crossovers rather than as a “must have” feature.