Creator of the World’s Ugliest Car Has Launched a new SUV
It’s not as hideous as we thought!by Kirby Garlitos, on LISTEN 05:03
If there’s any corner that Mitsuoka has claimed in the auto industry, it’s the corner of quirky and sometimes hideous cars. The niche Japanese automaker is the same company that gave us the Rock Star, the Mazda Miata-Chevrolet Corvette C2 mashup. It’s also the same company that’s responsible for the nightmare-inducing Honda NSX-based Orochi supercar.
Now, the automaker is back with another creation, only this time, it doesn’t look as horrible as we feared. It’s called the Mitsuoka Buddy, and it’s essentially a Toyota RAV4 wearing the skin of a modernized 1980s Chevrolet SUV. Get a load of this one, folks.
Who is Mitsuoka?
You can be forgiven — maybe even count yourselves fortunate — if you’re not aware of Mitsuoka Motor. The Japanese automaker was founded in 1968, and unlike most of its brethren, it doesn’t build original cars. Instead, it specializes on using existing models from other brands and giving them its own aesthetic twist. It’s really more of a custom design coachbuilder than a standalone automaker, and some of Mitsuoka’s most famous works have caught the public’s attention — for better or worse.
What are some of Mitsuoka’s most memorable creations?
It’s hard to choose among all the models that Mitsuoka has created, but a few standouts include the Galue, a luxury sedan based on the not-so luxurious Toyota Corolla Axio. There’s also the classically styled Himiko luxury roadster that’s somehow based on the Mazda MX-5 ND. A few years ago, Mitsuoka launched the Rock Star, another MX-5-based creation that wears the skin of the Chevrolet Corvette C2. Then there’s the Orochi, which counts as one of Mitsuoka’s most notable creations. Regarded by many as one of the ugliest cars ever built, the Orochi was a head-turner in all the wrong ways. The company even categorized it as a “Fashion-Super Car,” a statement that’s dripping in irony. Rare is the day when Mitsuoka launches a new model and the design is considered polarizing at best. But miracles do still happen because today is one of those rare days.
What’s the Mitsuoka Buddy?
The Mitsuoka Buddy is Mitsuoka’s latest creation. It’s a Toyota RAV4 that’s been designed to look like a modernized version of a 1980s Chevrolet Blazer/Suburban.
Unlike some of its past creations where retro styling was the norm, Mitsuoka went in a completely different direction with the Buddy’s design, modernizing a 30-year old design and giving it a new-age twist. Might I say, the strategy worked.
The front section, in particular, is a proper callback to the old Chevy SUV, complete with a chrome egg-crate-style grille that was one of the design hallmarks of that era. A pair of stacked headlights flank the grille, but there are also skinny LED running lights in the central crosspiece. The creased hood adds another modern design flair to the proceedings while the chrome bumper is another callback to the classic Chevys.
Over at the back, Mitsuoka’s design evokes a nice blend of old-school design cues with modern styling treatments.
The vertical taillamps and the sharper creases on the rear hatch blends well with the chrome bumper. The latter does pop out more than we liked, but it does create consistency with the chrome bumper in the front.
Mitsuoka didn’t reveal the interior of the Buddy so we’re expecting pretty much the same layout as the RAV4’s cabin with a few distinguishable additions to properly identify the Buddy as a Mitsuoka model.
What kind of power and performance capabilities does the Mitsuoka Buddy possess?
As expected, the Mitsuoka Buddy uses the Toyota RAV4’s powertrain for the Japanese market. That’s a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine producing 169 horsepower and 153 pound-feet of torque. No performance numbers were provided, but we assume that the Buddy can at least approach the RAV4’s performance capabilities in some form or fashion. A 0-to-60-mph acceleration time of eight seconds is possible as is a top speed of 130 mph.
|Engine||2.0-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder|
|0 to 60 mph||8 seconds|
|Top Speed||130 mph|
How much is the Mitsuoka Buddy and will it be available in the U.S.?
Mitsuoka hasn’t released pricing and availability details for the Buddy SUV. We do know that the company plans to have a gull unveiling on November 26. Pricing and availability details should become available then, but don’t expect the SUV to arrive stateside anytime soon. For the most part, the Buddy SUV is a Japanese-market exclusive, which, incredibly, is a bummer. I would’ve liked to see this one hit U.S. shores.