Monday, June 23, 2014

Used Car Review - Mitsubishi Spacewagon (1992-1999)

Before leaving the month of June, Myk Belmonte reviews a car which went way ahead of its time.

1992-1999 Mitsubishi Spacegear

First conceived from the SSW Concept Car displayed at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1979, the Chariot (known in its hometown) was placed into production in February 1983 using a variety of names such as Space Wagon, Nimbus, and Expo plus it was also marketed under the Dodge and Plymouth brands using the Colt Vista name.

Our model generation subject of discussion is the second generation Spacewagon which was more longer and taller while remaining in the same footprint making it qualify for Japanese regulations concerning vehicle size and engine displacement. This generation spawned offspring variants including the short-wheelbase RVR and a Korean version named the Hyundai Santamo.

The Philippine market had this MPV in 1992 through a 1.8 carburetor engine paired with a manual transmission. This concept went ahead of its direct (and much roomier rivals) from Nissan and Toyota, so to say that not all warmed on this concept. Until its 1995 update, it remained unchanged until 1999, where it was dropped on the line-up after without a direct replacement. Currently, the category where the Spacewagon used to compete is filled up with various contenders from Japan, Korea, and Indonesia.

Value and Costs
Currently, you may buy one between P90,000 for an early model possessing the carbureted engine to P220,000 for recent examples that carries an EFi engine and an optional automatic transmission.

Maintaining this rare vehicle would not require you to sell your kidney and liver, since parts are interchangeable with the Lancer and Galant of the same period. Pet peeves to look out are the suspension (which is notorious for the kalampag) and the steering assembly, plus check out for wear and tear present in the car.

Exterior and Interior
Staring at the Spacewagon will remind you that this vehicle is a product of the metal and grunge rock era. There is nothing to speak of its outside, but roofrails became standard in a 1995 update and the crystalline headlamps add style to the vehicle.

This is where the magic begins: inside. It can fit seven bodies in a compact body. We warn you immediately about this one, that there is no dual aircon function inside (that competitors do have) which makes passengers complain that it is hot inside plus the third row is cramped and kids are only welcome.

While the standard engine is a 4G93 1,834cc gasoline, horsepower and torque figures vary from one another in some periods. From 1992 until mid-1995, power is rated at 109hp and 154Nm with its fuel driven through a carburetor system. For those updated units (which can be identified through its three spoke wheels), adding electronic fuel injection resulted to having 115hp at 6,000rpm and 157Nm at 4,500rpm. So, the obvious choice is the later models since they do have enough power to pull the vehicle even when fully laden. Old models are poor picks since no thanks to a carburetor system, it would have a difficulty on speeding up plus it guzzles fuel like there's no tomorrow.

Driving Impressions
Since it has a height of a car, driving experience is similar to one. Visibility for a such a small MPV is excellent, with just a few blind spots present. When it comes to driving one, you will have a blast since it can reach triple digit speeds (unless you are passenger and cargo loaded, then performance would suffer) with ease.

The Mitsubishi Spacewagon was purely a vehicle which came well ahead of time. A period where people preferred high raised wagons and minivans which can wade through floods. 15 years later after its original launch date, rivals that had more aircon vents and more power of the similar were made available to the public. Unless you really want something small or that nostalgic feeling, check first other rivals which may deem suitable for your needs.

The Good:
  • Seats seven people
  • Practical size
  • Cheap to buy
The Bad:
  • Carburetor engine can be overtaxed
  • Third row is cramped
  • A single aircon comes standard for a three row vehicle
The Pick: Models with the 1.8 engine

Engine: 1,834cc 4G93 I4 gasoline
Power: 109hp (carbureted versions), 115hp @ 6,000rpm (EFi versions)
Torque: 154Nm (carbureted versions), 157Nm @ 4,500rpm (EFi versions)
Fuel Consumption: 6-8km/L (city), 9-12km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic (added in 1996)
Suspension: Front independent McPherson strut, rear independent semi-trailing arm

Price (New): P650,000-P750,000 (estimated)
Price (Now): P90,000-P220,000
Rivals: Mazda MPV, Nissan Vanette, Toyota Liteace, Toyota Tamaraw FX
On Sale: 1992-1999

El Dorado - (02) 911-0021/(02) 913-4482

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