New kei cars are fun to cover. The impossibly small yet practical Japanese minicars manage to cram a lot of style and usability into a tight package. Mitsubishi's eK Wagon series has been a strong seller since its introduction in 2001, and the redesigned version (on sale today across Japan) looks to build on that success.
The new eK boasts a power sliding door on the
Inside, the staid eK Wagon gets a grey and beige interior, while the eK Sport gets done up in all black. Optional Recaros can dress up the Sport even further. Both cars can be fitted with upgraded stereos, nav and other convenience features.
(Continues after the jump. Pics, press release follow as well)
The eK is a kei car, so the presence of a 660cc engine should come as no surprise. The normally-aspirated version in the eK wagon makes 50 hp, and the turbocharged eK Sport R (the eK Sport X gets the base engine) pumps out 64 horses. As is usually the case with these types of cars, both 2WD and AWD versions are available. Depending on trim level, the cars can be fitted with a 5-speed manual, 3-speed auto, or 4-speed auto.
The new eK is a nice, traditional counterweight to its radical-looking kei sibling, the i. In the case of the eK Sport R, we'd go so far as to say it's pretty damn cool. Be on the lookout for a Nissan-branded version as well. It's already been announced that Mitsubishi will supply Nissan with eK wagons to be and sold under a different name. The current Nissan Otti is a rebadged version of the previous-gen Mitsubishi eK.
At the end of the photo gallery below, we've included shots of the outgoing eK and its Nissan doppleganger.
Update: Our friends at Autoblog Green weigh in on the cleaner-burning engine in the normally-aspirated eK models.
eK Wagon, eK Sport:
Mitsubishi Motors launches new eK Wagon & eK Sport
- "Great minicar wagon": Bringing a smile to one and all -
Tokyo, September 13, 2006 - Mitsubishi Motors Corporation today launched fully redesigned eK Wagon and eK Sport models at affiliated dealerships throughout Japan on September 13, 2006. Developed to a "convenience", "peace-of-mind" and "feel-good" theme, features distinguishing the new eK series include a power sliding door, the first on a bonnet-type passenger minicar, and a comprehensive small-item storage and utility specification that offers outstanding usability. Tax inclusive prices for 2WD and 4WD eK Wagon models range from 913,500 yen to 1,222,200 yen, and for 2WD and 4WD eK Sport models from 1,260,000 yen to 1,484,700 yen.
The first eK series debuted in October 2001. It was developed to establish a generation- and gender-transcending "minicar standard" that would enjoy the support of a wide spectrum of users. Features defining the concept and readily embraced by its broad customer base include its "simple, clean and basic" design, its "semi-tall packaging" that is just right for easy ingress/egress and for Japan's multi-level tower car parks and its comprehensive equipment and amenities specification that gives careful attention to owner needs. These selling points drove total eK series sales over 480,000 units to make it one of Mitsubishi Motors best selling models.
Development of the second generation eK Wagon and eK Sport was directed at retaining and evolving the well-received "practical and basic minicar standard" position that defined the first series. Taking its cue from Mitsubishi Motors "Back to the basics of car building excellence" stance, the company conducted extensive research to obtain a detailed understanding of latent needs in a broad spectrum of current and potential owners and users. The research included: conventional user clinics; behavioral studies of consumers at supermarket car parks; interviews with parents at children's class meetings; and interviewing pet owners and vets at veterinary surgeries.
The research led to a number of "discoveries" that had gone unobserved to date and related to unexpected instances of joy, happiness and dissatisfaction on the part of minicar users. These discoveries are reflected in the Multi-position Utility system that allows the interior to be easily customized and other "evolving" changes as well as in the "deepening" detail improvements made to component and parts. The new eK brings a real smile to the driver and passengers as they feel for themselves the evolution in the "convenience," "peace-of-mind" and "feel-good" elements that make it the "great minicar wagon" and the daily life partner it is.
The new eK delivers category-topping levels of environmental performance. The use of a new catalytic converter sees naturally aspirated engine models earn 4-star ratings for emissions that are 75% lower than the requirements of the Japanese 2005 Emission Regulations, while intercooler/turbocharged models earn 3-star rating for emissions that are 50% lower than the requirement. Using a deodorizing head lining and Clean Air Filter with odor-remover the new eK meets in advance the standards laid down in JAMA's Voluntary Requirements of VOC*1 Levels. Other features contributing to its pleasant and comfortable interior include the use of Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified seat fabric and solar control glass.
*1 VOC：Volatile Organic Compounds
1. eK Wagon and eK Sport product features
I. "Evolving": New items
1) Inner rail-type Power Sliding Door enhances convenience & security (standard on eK Wagon MS and GS trim levels)
Offered for the first time on a passenger-use minicar, eK Wagon is available with an inner rail-type Power Sliding Door developed very much with families with young children, the main user group, in mind. This convenience and security enhancing feature is available on MG and GS trim levels at a very reasonable additional cost of 52,500 yen (tax included).
- The nearside rear inner rail-type Power Sliding Door may be operated by inner and outer handles as well as by switches located on the center pillar and in the cockpit. The sliding door may also be opened or closed using the keyless entry system remote control, convenient when carrying shopping in both hands.
- The door uses Mitsubishi Motors' own sliding mechanism in which the rails are hidden when the door is shut. This configuration provides the maximum door opening size possible within the restricted dimensions of the minicar category. Because the slide rail is not installed in the door outer panel the Power Sliding Door does not affect eK Wagon's clean exterior lines. To avoid hitting anything close behind the vehicle, the sliding door is designed not to protrude beyond the trailing edge of the body when fully open.
- At 530 mm wide and 1005 mm high, the door opening is large enough for access by adults and a large assist grip on the center pillar facilitates boarding and alighting.
- An easy-closer mechanism takes the effort out of manually closing the door and assures that it closes properly.
- When a touch sensor on the front edge of the power sliding door detects an obstruction as the door is closing the power mechanism automatically reverses the slide direction. The door is fitted with a child protect lock to prevent accidental operation. When this is engaged the door can only be opened using the driver's cockpit switch or the outer handle. A stopper keeps the open door from sliding shut when the vehicle is parked on an incline.
- On MS and GS trim levels the center and rear pillars, side roof and side sill are reinforced to improve the durability and operating feel of the Power Sliding Door as well as to increase overall body stiffness and provide greater safety in a side impact.
2) Multi-position Utility system
Standard on all trim levels, the innovative Multi-position Utility (MPU) system provides five attachment points sharing the same mode of attachment: one under the dashboard Center Panel and four in the front passenger seatback. MPU refers to the function of and to the group of items that comprise the system. Enhancing convenience and usability, the system allows the owner and other users to customize the interior by attaching, moving around or exchanging a variety of amenity items at their preferred attachment point.
- Convenience Hooks and a Mini Trash Box are provided as standard equipment for use with the MPU system. The owner may move these items around to other locations in the system as he or she wishes.
- The MPU system also supports a range of dealer-fitted option items that includes large and small pockets, a table with hooks for children's use and an umbrella holder.
- The owner can also have fun customizing the interior by sticking dealer-fitted option Multi-use Hooks to his or her favorite personal goods or stuffed toy and fitting them at MPU locations.
Mitsubishi Motors has upgraded the eK's audio specification in a major way because it believes feel-good music to be important in creating an enjoyable interior ambiance when traveling with family or friends. The High-grade Sound System that delivers category-eclipsing acoustic performance and the Mitsubishi Multi-Entertainment System (MMES) are now available as factory-fitted options.
- The Mitsubishi Multi-Entertainment System (MMES) may also be chosen as a factory-fitted option. With a 30 GB hard disk drive, the system integrates user-friendly on-board navigation with advanced audio capabilities that include a music catcher that can store up to 4,000 titles.
- Topping the range of available audio systems and for the true music connoisseur is the High-grade Sound System. A 360 watt 6-channel amplifier drives 8 speakers in 6 locations. The system incorporates a digital signal processor (DSP) that allows the listener to tune sound reproduction to match source and audio field. For this option, the front doors are turned into speaker boxes using the deadening treatment developed on the Outlander and using noise insulation and vibration damping materials to close off openings inside the door. The result is a level of acoustic quality unprecedented in the minicar category. This option is available on the M (3-speed A/T) and on the G, X and R trim levels.
- The 2DIN locating space in the Center Panel has been moved upward for easier operation of the audio controls and better viewability of the navigation screen.
1) Ageless exterior design
The new eK inherits the semi-tall packaging that proved to be one of the unique selling points in the first series: combining outstanding levels of ingress/egress and interior room with multi-storey tower car park accessibility. The new eK adds "smart" - an optimal balance between rational design and a casual sense of fun - to the generation- and gender-transcending "simple, clean, basic" concept that cued the original eK design.
While inheriting the identity of the first series model, the new eK Wagon gains a crisper definition to the semi-tall & long roof proportions of its boxy silhouette through the muscular surface treatment, and the character line with its fender flares wrapping deeply around the front wheels. Elements contributing to eK Wagon's advanced but functional appearance include a bonnet shape that complies with pedestrian protection legislation and the use of power-thrifty and long-life LED rear combination lamps (a category-first).
Supporting a wide variety of lifestyles, the rich lineup of 11* body colors includes a serene and amicable Pearl Beige Solid and a chic White Pearl.
Designed for those looking for sportier performance and styling, eK Sport is wrapped in visually impactful lines that give a lip-smacking foretaste of its gutsy performance. Elements that help forge its personality include the front visage, which is immediately identifiable with its black sword-edge graphics composed using the HID headlight units and distinctive polycarbonate grille, 14-inch alloy road wheels on the R trim level (13-inch on the X), side and rear air dams and roof spoiler. eK Sport is offered in a choice of six* urban and sporty colors, including a new and richly expressive Dawn Silver Metallic that projects a steely look of strength.
*The Pearl White option is available at an additional cost of 21,000 yen (tax included) for both eK Wagon and eK Sport models.
2) Modern interior design
The interior melds together a domestic white goods familiarity and a digital device precision to create a comfortable space with a modern tone and casual sense of fun within a functional and readily usable layout.
The eK Wagon uses a Dark Grey/Beige interior scheme to generate a gentle ambiance. The novel white Center Panel in the middle of the dashboard symbolizes the design's functional beauty and modern qualities. eK Wagon uses convenient and roomy bench seats front and rear, covered in a beige fabric interwoven with bluish-grey accents.
* 3-speed A/T M and G trim levels are available as a factory-fitted option with eK Sport's black interior trim (hybrid instrumentation excluded).
The black monotone interior color scheme that extends to the dashboard and seats is counterpointed by the functional Dark Grey Metallic used for the center panel to create a purposeful and taut atmosphere. Elements contributing to the sporty mood of the interior include the Hybrid Meter instrumentation, with digital speedometer and analogue tachometer, and the leather-wrap steering wheel.
Recaro bucket-type seats with armrest that provide excellent hold and location when driving near the limit are available as a factory-fitted option.
3) Comfortable and pleasant interior environment
- The air conditioner is fitted with a deodorizing Clean Air Filter incorporating odor-remover. This works with the deodorizing head lining standard on all models to reduce VOC levels and to remove and cut cigarette and other everyday smells, creating an interior environment that is as pleasantly clean as it is comfortable.
- Following the i, the new eK becomes the second Mitsubishi Motors model to use seat fabric certified under the Oeko-Tex Standard 100, an international standard that screens and tests for harmful substances in processed textiles. The fabric inhibits the action of allergens and so is kinder to the skin.
- The new eK uses solar control glass in the front door windows, which expose occupants to more sunburn and sizzling heat than any other glass area, as well as in the windshield. The solar control glass and the privacy glass used in the rear door, quarter light and tailgate glazing cut transmission of ultra-violet and infra-red radiation, making for a more comfortable and cooler interior.
- eK is the first Mitsubishi Motors minicar to use an in-dash gear selector which marries the easy operability and better visibility of a floor-mounted shift with the comfort-enhancing qualities of the column shift that works well with the bench seat to allow front/rear walk-thro's on both sides. The in-dash gear selector has a natural feel to it, moving on a straight forward-back plane at an angle very similar to a floor shift.
- The new eK retains the Center Meter instrument panel. Viewability has been improved by offsetting it toward the driver just enough to keep it from being hidden by the steering wheel.
- With families with small children in mind, the MS and GS Power Sliding Door models use a new stain-free water-repellent seat fabric.
- Cup holders are provided for all seats. Driver and front passenger get see-through colored cup holders that use a three-step adjustable pincer action. The rear cup holders are built into the armrest. (The nearside rear Power Sliding Door has no cup holder).
- Front compartment storage has been upgraded for the new eK. The driver dash upper box provides three times more volume and the front passenger glove compartment approximately twice that of the first eK. The under trays on both sides of the dashboard and toll ticket holder offer better usability. The Vehicle Roadworthiness Certificate compartment in the front passenger door and the Mini Trash Box that proved so popular on the first series are retained. The lid on the Mini Trash Box can now be fitted to the bottom, allowing it to be used to hold CDs and other small items. The Mini Trash Box may also be attached to the front passenger seatback using the MPU system described above.
The new eK retains the powertrain configurations from the first series - the naturally aspirated 3G83 3-cylinder SOHC engine (intercooler/turbocharged on the eK Sport R) mated to one of three transmissions (5-speed manual, 3- and 4-speed automatics) - with changes focused on improving environmental performance.
The use of a new high-performance catalytic converter sees all naturally aspirated engine models earn 4-star ratings with emission levels that are 75% lower than Japanese 2005 Emission Regulations. Turbo models earn a 3-star rating with emissions that are 50% lower.
- Better fuel economy
Overall mileage has been improved with the use of a torque converter adding a lockup mechanism on 4-speed A/T models (2WD), allowing high-volume trim levels to meet the Japanese 2010 Fuel Economy Standards (3-speed A/T 4WD eK Wagon models and eK Sport R excluded). The 5-speed manual gearbox eK Wagon M qualifies for 2006 Green Vehicle Tax exemption with mileage that is 10% better than the standards.
- The new eK is the first in its category to use LED tail and brake lights. With a faster activation time and more visible than bulb lights, the LED units help to reduce rear end crashes.
- The new eK follows the i and the Outlander in adopting the use of neck impact reducing front seats, giving improved rear impact safety performance.
- Pedestrian protection performance is improved as a result of raising the height of the engine hood and of changes made to the shape and configuration of engine auxiliary devices to secure the necessary space under the hood.
- As one the first series, the new eK uses anti-trapping power windows, a brake pedal fitted with a mechanism that limits rearward displacement in a crash event and an impact absorbing steering column.