Transform the most banal Japanese cars that are into neo-retro creations, without ever being afraid to fall into the baroque or kitsch: it has always been Mitsuoka's credo. A follower of eccentricity, the small Japanese manufacturer nevertheless accepts today to follow fashion, by launching its first SUV, the Buddy. With, as a base, the fifth generation of the Toyota RAV4, which is far from presenting the same originality as the first version and which found nearly a million buyers in the world last year. But except in profile, difficult to recognize this peaceful family vehicle, so much the modifications made to its body give it rather airs of "old" American 4×4.
A scent of America on the outside …
The front is now crumbling under the chrome, which dresses both the new grille and the imposing bumper. Obviously, the collision standards with a pedestrian were not the priority here! The piercing headlights of the RAV4 are replaced by four rectangular optics, which reinforce the retro character of the whole. From the front, this Buddy is thus very reminiscent of the first generation of Chevrolet Tahoe, sold in the 1990s across the Atlantic, or even the K5 Blazer of the 1980s. Old-fashioned off-road tires with prominent BF Goodrich branding and solid rims can further enhance the resemblance. On the other hand, the stern is more reminiscent of the new Kia Sorento, for example, with lights now arranged vertically on either side of the tailgate.
… but not under the hood
Also forget about the V6 or V8 that this very Americanized look might suggest. As usual, Mitsuoka keeps the engines of the production model: an atmospheric 2.0 four-cylinder, unknown in France, and a 2.5 hybrid closer to the one sold here. But if you are dying to stand out behind the wheel of this very special RAV4, the game will unfortunately be very complicated. The Buddy should only be broadcast on the Japanese archipelago like the manufacturer's previous creations, like the recent Rock Star, this Mazda MX-5 ND looking like a Chevrolet Corvette C2, or the Orochi, this Honda NSX-based supercar used to the ugliest car compilations.