Mitsubishi Motors claims its new diesel-powered Concept-cX, set for a world debut at the Frankfurt show next month, will show that driving pleasure and corporate responsibility are not mutually exclusive.

The concept is a compact SUV, one of the fastest-growing segments in Europe - up 54% from 325,000 in 2001 to 500,000 in 2006 and with further 35% growth expected between 2006 and 2009, according to the automaker.

The vehicle is also a showcase for a new low-CO² Euro 5 clean diesel family of engines, co-developed by MMC and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries now scheduled for launch in 2009, a year earlier than originally planned.

Mitsubishi said diesel's dominance in Europe (50+% of sales in average), meant it was the most effective short-term, CO2 emissions-reduction option for the region "as opposed to fancier  technologies, ultimately limited in impact by cost, sheer volume or 'recyclability' ".

The clean diesel engine range will have a new high-efficiency turbocharger and high-efficiency combustion characteristics developed in-house.

MMC on Monday said it decided to bring forward to early 2009 the start of production of this family of engines for Europe, one full year earlier than scheduled. Following European introduction, these powerplants will also be phased into other markets, including North America.

"This advancement will allow MMC to meet the needs of the growing number of environment-conscious customers quicker," the automaker said.

MMC said the Concept-cX is "a proposal for an accessible, affordable, sustainable and realistic solution to today's pressing issues, whilst preserving authentic driving pleasure".

The concept's engine is a 1.8-litre DOHC 16-valve four-cylinder unit developing 100kW/136ps at 4,000rpm and 280Nm of torque at 2,000rpm. It has a variable geometry turbocharger - to generate optimum boost pressure for all engine loads - a diesel particulate filter and a diesel oxidation catalyst.

For this concept application, the new engine is mated to Mitsubishi Motors' recently-announced Twin Clutch SST automated manual transmission scheduled for production in the redesigned Lancer line also due for European launch at Frankfurt.

Other Concept-cX 'green credentials' include eco-friendly 'green plastics' and MMC's proprietary plant-based resin technology - made from bamboo and other plant-based resins - used for interior trim materials, such as floor mats, door trim, tail gate trim and seat back panels.

Other features include a split tailgate similar to that on the current production Outlander crossover, which Mitsubishi also builds on an OEM basis for Peugeot and Citroen.

The Concept-cX is 4,100mm long, 1,550mm tall and 1750mm on a 2,525mm wheelbase and, NNC said, "offers passenger car-like stance and dynamics.

It is also fitted with Mitsubishi's All Wheel Control technology, similar to the driveline introduced with the current Outlander.

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