Could a 7-seat Mitsubishi Xpander built to AP4 regulations really be the future of rallying? Surprisingly, Mitsubishi Indonesia reckons it might be.
Popular Indonesian rally driver, Rifat Sungkar, has been behind the building and development of the new Xpander AP4 over the past two years.
"This car was just a crazy idea," Sungkar told RallySport Magazine.
"Mitsubishi Indonesa has a Light MPV car that was designed especially for the Indonesian market. They called it Mitsubishi Xpander.
"Surpisingly, the car was so good in every aspect, including the way they build the car, the material, the look and the price.
"As a result, the sales of the car was super massive for Mitsubishi Indonesia and has made Indonesia the top country in Mitsubishi sales worldwide."
Sungkar tested the road-going Xpander before in launched in August 2017, and immediately had a good feeling about the car. The suspension was especially impressive, being using geometry from the successful Lancer Evo X.
"From that moment I was dreaming about how to make this thing as a rally car," Sungkar added.
Rifat Sungkar competing in the Rally of Canberra in 2006.
"I found a 20-year old kid named @yogabudiw on Instagram. I didn't know him, but I admired his work and he is good on 3D and he made some designs that were a mix between an R5 car and the Xpander.
"At the same time the AP4 formula was getting stronger, so I flew to New Zealand to speak to others about the car, and if it was a possibility."
Talks with Force Motorsport proved positive, as did a drive in their Mazda 2 AP4.
He then visited Race Torque in Perth and drove a Skoda Fabia R5 car, and took a ride with Alister McRae.
"Effectively, it took us two years to go from a crazy idea to the finished car," Sungkar said.
"Brendan Reeves introduced me to the AP4 formula, and my car has been based on a front-wheel drive car (converted to 4WD), built in New Zealand to the AP4 rules.
"We had the car built by Ralliart New Zealand, and so far the car has performed perfectly and is beyond my expectations."
Mitsubishi Indonesia's Xpander AP4 car looks the goods, and goes well too.
Mitsubishi Indonesia's plan was to produce a car that could become a national rally symbol, and help to bridge the gap to the younger generation and, as Sungkar says, "the common people".
"What I drive is a reachable popular car, and what I drive is what they have," he says.
The Xpander is powered by a 1.6-litre de-bored and de-stroked 2.0 L 4B11 engineand produces 261 kW (350 hp; 355 PS) and 556 N⋅m (410 lb⋅ft) of torque.
The power is transferred to the four-wheel drive system.
Videos on the progress of the car have gone viral in Indonesia, with some of them receiving over 200,000 views in just 24 hours from the time of publishing.
It is highly likely that many more Xpanders will make their way into Indonesian events over the coming years.
In an age when rally cars are expensive and often beyond the general public's reach, the Mitsubishi Xpander AP4 may just be that car to bridge the gap.
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