Check out Mitsuoka Buddy, a limited-production, retro-American-style SUV, which is actually a restyled Toyota RAV4
Mitsuoka is not a huge name in the international automobile industry. It is a small Japanese automaker, known for building some unique-looking vehicles, like the Rock Star (C2 Corvette-inspired, based on Mazda MX5) and the Ryugi (based on Toyota Corolla). Last year, the manufacturer introduced its first SUV, named ‘Buddy’, which continues the tradition of unconventional styling.
Mitsuoka Buddy is based on Toyota RAV4, but you’d have to look hard to recognise the base car. The exterior design of the SUV is inspired by Chevrolet K5 Blazer from the 1970s. At the front, we see a wide grille, with a horizontal chrome strip running in the centre, flanked by a pair of vertically stacked square headlights on each side.
The front bumper is designed to resemble the steel bumpers seen on cars a few decades ago. The side profile doesn’t feature many changes over the RAV4, and the SUV continues to get door claddings and wheel arch claddings. The Buddy can also be had with a set of retro-style wheels, which complete its old-school design.
At the rear, we see a redesigned tailgate, along with a new pair of vertically-oriented taillights. The rear bumper also gets the retro-treatment, featuring chrome embellishments that are designed like steel bumpers. Also, the tailgate gets a bold ‘Mitsuoka’ badge with a black background, which is an interesting design detail.
The interior of the car, however, is completely modern. The design and equipment are unchanged over the RAV4, including the same instrument cluster, touchscreen infotainment system, and audio & HVAC controls. That said, Mitsuoka has updated the interior trim with new leather upholstery, featuring contrasting white stitching.
Mitsuoka Buddy had two engine options on offer – a 2.0-litre petrol unit (171 PS) and a 2.5-litre petrol-electric hybrid (175 PS) – and it had a starting price of around USD 40,000 (~ INR 29.83 lakh). Only 200 units of the SUV were produced, in the first batch last year, and the vehicle was sold out in just four days. Deliveries of the first batch vehicles are expected to complete by 2023, after which the second batch will be put into production.