Click above for a high-res gallery of the Mitsubishi Prototype-S.

Mitsubishi is serious about extending its range of Lancer products to fill every niche between the base ES model and the range-topping Evolution X MR. The introduction of the Lancer Ralliart was one way of plugging the gaping hole between the lesser Lancer and its rally-bred big brother, but still, something was missing: utility. Mitsubishi's answer to the Subaru WRX Sportwagon and Volkswagen's four-door GTI is the Lancer Prototype-S, a new model that will move on from concept to production within the next year.

All the details that have trickled out over the past month were realized earlier today, as the five-door Lancer made its appearance in Geneva. As expected, power will come from the Ralliart's 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, which sends 240 hp and 252 lb.-ft. of torque through the Twin Clutch SST gearbox and on down to all four wheels through an Active Center differential.

The chances of the Prototype-S making it Stateside grow each day, particularly as Mitsubishi aims to reestablish itself as a producer of economical and entertaining vehicles that blend a bit of sportiness with a dose of functionality.

Mitsubishi's press release is available after the jump.

Related GalleryMitsubishi Prototype S


PRESS RELEASE

MITSUBISHI PROTOTYPE-S


- The Color Orange -

What's in a color ?...

In the case of "orange", adjectives such as lively, warm, enthusiastic, creative, energetic, successful, stimulating but also polarizing come to mind, all things that do very much apply to Mitsubishi Motors Corporation in 2008...
Right-brained and different, MMC embodies these traits through an all-new range of cars, each of them supported by an iconic figure on a mission:

- Lancer Evolution: Sporting spirit
- "i": Green (orange ?...) vision
- Pajero: 4-Wheel Drive expertise

Perhaps the most potent symbol of this positive corporate & brand mindset, "Project Global" has already proved its worth through the success of Lancer Sports Sedan, New Outlander and Delica D:5, the first products based on this all-new global architecture.

Europe

Launched in certain selected markets late last year and very well received, the stylish all-new Lancer Sports Sedan already started to bring its own contribution to Mitsubishi Motors commercial perfor-mance in Europe with 6,576 sales (to end of December 2007).

First member of the new Lancer family, it will be followed in the market by a full set of siblings, including Lancer Evolution, Lancer Ralliart and the sleek Lancer Sportback, together with its sportier Lancer Sportback Ralliart derivative.

When launched later in the year, this 5-door hatchback will be the most important variant of all in Europe, representing 70% of the forecasted Lancer volume in the region.

Right Brain

Prior to this most important introduction, Prototype-S previews the shape of things to come...

Just as Prototype-X (2007 Detroit) was a near real-life expression of Concept-X (2005 Tokyo) announ-cing the new Lancer Sports Sedan and Lancer Evolution, Prototype–S follows up today the much-acclaimed Concept-Sportback show car (2005 Frankfurt), signalling the future arrival of the Mitsubishi C/D segment hatchback.

Building on the same assets of racing heritage, sharp design, rewarding driving dynamics and "right-brain" take at the market, Prototype-S hits the same emotional / non-mainstream buttons as Lancer Sports Sedan, albeit in a hatchback format, benchmarking the likes of Alfa Romeo with the 156 / 159 Sportwagons (dynamic benchmark) and of Saab with the legendary Saab 900 Turbo Combi-Coupé (aspirational benchmark).

Tonic

Sporting a very tonic metallic orange, the 458,5 cm Prototype-S adds the convenience of a liftgate and of flexible rear seating to the driving dynamics of the new Lancer range.

Essentially a productionized version of the original Concept-Sportback, Prototype-S remains close to its inspiration.

At the front, it uses a further variation of Lancer's trademark "Jet Fighter" grille featuring a full matt black finish, mesh inserts and chrome surround. It its flanked either sides with additional air intakes incor-porating boomerang-shaped fog lights. Further distinguishing features include a Lancer Evolution-type hood, specific headlamps and 19" five-spoke alloy wheels.

At the rear, Prototype-S follows the same design theme explored in 2005 with Concept-Sportback with a very fast lift-gate surmounted by Sportback's characteristic color-keyed roof spoiler. Elongated rear combination lamps widen the stance of the car as they warp around the rear fenders. A feature on their own, they sign a neat bumper/fender shut line that runs exactly parallel to the rear door opening.

Inside, Prototype-S displays a very continental flair with its italianate twin-hood meters, the black suede finish of the upper dashboard & door panels or the light brown-colored leather selected for its upholstery, in plain, perforated or weaved finish according to the area covered.

Of course, the meters are orange lit...

Fast Lane

Mirroring its aspirations, a sporty wedge-like profile, sharply chiselled lines, assertive stance born from long wheelbase / wide track proportions, a high-shouldered rear end or the very expressive rear roof spoiler will embody Mitsubishi's vision for a flexible sports sedan in the C/D sector, away from the traditional hatchbacks.
Fittingly, Prototype-S will blend elements from Concept-Sportback (overall concept), Lancer Evolution (execution) and Lancer Ralliart (240 ps / 343 Nm 2.0 l turbo engine, Twin Clutch SST gearbox, full-time 4WD drivetrain featuring Mitsubishi Motors' Active Center Differentia or "ACD").