If you don’t live in Japan you probably have never heard of the DELICA, a « people carrier » made by Mitsubishi seen by many as a UFO in the local automotive market (from a foreigner point of view) due to its large dimensions and VAN style.
But it’s actually what the DELICA is, or was…long before being the car that you can see on the picture above or those below, the DELICA was, when introduced by Mitsubishi in 1969, a 58HP (1088cc) van destined to workers, 600kg of any type of good could be transported and the vehicle could reach a max. speed of 115kmh (70mph), to put it simply, it was a DELIvery CAr !
It is only 10 years later that Mitsubishi started to explore other possibilities for their DELICA, as a result, the 2nd generation proposed a family version and this “conversion” has now become a major part of the DELICA line up. Despite good sales and an availability in Japan, China, Taiwan and the Phillipines, the production was stopped in 2004…only to come back this year, better than ever ! At least this is what you will soon find out.
The new DELICA appeared for the first time in 2006 at the Tokyo Auto Show, a good opportunity for the 3 diamonds brand to see and hear the reactions of the crowd and the medias on their latest creation.
One year later here it is, the 5th generation, the DELICA D5.
What we now have in front of us is very similar to the “concept” shown at Tokyo some months ago, the idea is still the same: a 4 wheel drive (Mini)Van with high ground clearance and a new, futuristic design.
The Mitsubishi Design Center certainly worked hard to come up with strong, yet “nice to look at” lines for the exterior of this huge car. The dimensions are still those of a van but the designers managed to make it attractive thanks to several details on the front and rear ends.
At the front, the big headlights and chromed front grill appeared to us as a good match for the oversized body all the way to the rear lights and bumper. The bottom of those bumpers, in a black color, increases the “Off Roader” look of the car and reminds us that the AWD system can its owner beyond the city limits.
All in all we were very pleased with the design and character of this DELICA D5 and this, under any angle.
We said it many times, the new DELICA D5 is a big car, a quick look at any picture should convince you but what completely did for us was stepping inside.
The car was designed to welcome 8 persons in excellent conditions of comfort. You might say, and you would be right, that other cars can achieve this, through an additional third row of seats for example, but the quality of the seats and overall space in this D5 is unrivalled, or maybe only by a couple very expensive luxury sedans.
Inside the DELICA your body is not the only entity that will feel totally at ease, your mind will too: many things were done by Mitsubishi to turn any short or long trip in their D5, into a good time. A large TV/VIDEO screen with DVD player is accessible to all rear passengers and it is even possible to benefit from an optional Wireless Audio System (headsets) to make you feel as well as in a first class flight !
With all these attentions brought to the passengers you might wonder “and what about the driver ?” Well don’t worry about it as it’s still great to seat behind the steering wheel of the Mitsubishi DELICA D5, the comfort and seat position are excellent and we noticed a couple elements taken from other vehicles like the steering wheel (same as the new PAJERO’s) and a couple buttons on the dashboard see on the OUTLANDER.
Now, before jumping to another important area of the car we would like to mention 2 things that we really appreciated while seating inside the D5:
-there are a lot of storage spaces which are easily accessible
-the ceiling light at the front gives the car (and the driver) an extremely enjoyable “relaxing” feel
On the road…
Performance wise we can’t say that we expected a lot from the DELICA as a big 1.800kg family car. The first thing that surprised us was how agile the car actually feels in spite of its weight and size. It does “feel” much better than it appears.
The steering is precise and the 2.4 litre MIVEC engine, producing 170HP and 226Nm of torque, provides good accelerations when and wherever you need it, from highways to mountain roads. This good engine is also helped by the automatic gearbox equipped with Shit Paddles behind the wheel, they offer good response and make overtakes easier.
On “regular” roads the D5 is a pleasant car to drive, the suspensions are rather tight so the body of the car remains stable in most conditions especially in the corners while the brakes do their job the right way, another good point.
Driving downtown isn’t a problem either, the only downside might come from one’s ability to rapidly get used to driving such a big car in crowded streets and avenues and also when trying to park.
We said it before and we say it again the DELICA D5 is an AWD Van…but what can it really do on “unfriendly terrains” ?
On this area the high ground clearance becomes your best friend and helps getting over most difficulties. Another good point came from the fact that we never really felt the need of any “additional power” over the 170 poneys situated under the right foot. Of course there are limits and people who care more about off-roading than family will probably consider a PAJERO instead but again, we were pleased by the versatility of the DELICA.
So yes ! The Mitsubishi DELICA D5 can take you off road but the city is the landscape that is and will remain its favourite playground !
Interior (comfort, space)
The Mitsubishi DELICA D5 is the incarnation of this new type of vehicles that more and more people seem to be looking for; a family car with a little touch of "adventure" through the all-wheel-drive system and high ground clearance. Most owners will probably never take it to muddy ruts and gaps but simply want to appreciate the extra safety feel that comes from driving this type of car. All in all, we really enjoyed driving it for a week, the DELICA D5 is a great family van equipped with Mitsubishi's best technology.