Kei cars are alive and well in Japan, and getting taller.
Mitsubishi sells two kinds of vehicles in America: crossover SUVs and budget superminis. But back home, it sells even smaller vehicles – Kei cars that are almost entirely exclusive to the Japanese Domestic Market. And it's showing just how much it can fit on the restrictively tiny footprint with this latest concept.
Unveiled alongside the Mi-Tech concept at the Tokyo Motor Show, the Mitsubishi Super Height K-Wagon concept is about as big as you could make a Kei car. And as the name suggests, it owes that much to its "super height" that leaves it looking like it'd topple over under hard cornering (or in a strong wind).
To make it as stable (and interiorly expansive) as possible, Mitsubishi has pushed the tiny-looking wheels as far out to the corners as possible, leaving little in the way of overhangs, front or rear. And like the "other" kind of vehicles it makes, the Japanese automaker has imbued the K-Wagon with SUV-like styling cues, with a ruggedly stubby nose, contrasting wheel arches and lower trim, an almost martial green paintjob, and a silver-railed white roof that'd look right at home on, say, the discontinued Toyota FJ Cruiser.
Inside it's all earthy tones of browns, beige, and black, with rather handsome-looking diamond-quilted seat panels and orange stitching.
Mitsubishi's also given the K-Wagon what it claims are the largest sliding rear doors in this pint-sized (but domestically vital) class and more rear-seat legroom than any other Kei car on the road in the Pacific island nation. It hasn't said anything about what powers the vehicle, but claims "stress-free" and "brisk road performance" via a continuously variable transmission. Japanese customers can expect a vehicle like this to hit local roads in the near future. As for the rest of us, Kei cars seldom make it outside of Japan. So for better or worse, we'll have to make do with the Mirage hatchback and Mirage G4 sedan.