Major motor shows would not be the same without Mitsubishi concepts
Designing ‘showpieces’ can be immensely expensive. I can recall Jaguar Cars (when Ford owned the firm) spending a cool £1m on a one-off show car, which featured 24ct gold detailing but did not even presage the appearance of a new coupe. In many cases, they are undrivable flights of fantasy and a means to highlight that a particular brand can afford to think out-of-the-box and little else.
Mitsubishi has seldom been in a position to ‘squander’ resources but that does not stop its design team from creating a ‘Saturday Club’, for which its time is unpaid but a more cost-effective route to creating a showpiece occurs. The most recent front grille outline that appears on several of its SUVs and pickup trucks first appeared on a show car.
Take a closer look at the GC-PHEV show car of 2014 above; although its proportions may not seem correct, with the wheelbase appearing to be too short, there are aspects around the rear three-quarters of the car that have been carried onto the current Shogun Sport, launched just last year. Were you to see its frontal aspect, you would understand how the ‘shield’ outline on those aforementioned current Mitsubishis evolved.
On the other hand, the shapely blue Concept cX, (pictured above) dating from 2007, showed how a future compact hatchback could look, were it given a Lancer Evo X front grille, which was very much part of Mitsubishi’s design signature of the time. I wish you could see the interior, which was a stunning, all leather-trimmed and organic delight. The front uni-seat (a new slant on the front bench) was eminently impractical but looked amazing, incorporating the gearshift and minor switchgear within its billowy form. The dashboard was similarly attractive but would have been impossible to turn into a cost-effective manufacturing reality.
The Concept RA of 2008 was as close to becoming productionised as any car could be. Yes, it would have lost its upward-hinged doors and the ultra-stylish interior but its external form shares the flow and dynamism of cars like the Peugeot RCZ, or Nissan 370Z. Had it been badged as a replacement for the much-loved Starion coupe, I feel sure that it would have sold in similar numbers.
Mitsubishi’s design team really went to town with the Concept RA. Its bodywork gave the appearance of being poured like molten metal and stretched sinuously onto its platform, only just covering the spaced-out alloy wheels. It is so beautiful and so potent that it is sad Mitsubishi did not have the available resources to make it, even in limited numbers.
Luscombe’s summary: As displays of high quality and design freedom, Mitsubishi’s concepts and show cars have immense value and they make really good poster art as well.
Next week: More Mitsubishi concepts.
Climbing Pike’s Peak was a three-times pinnacle achievement
Renowned for its rallying and rally-raid successes, recalls Iain Robertson, Mitsubishi provided Shogun safety support vehicles and also entered the infamous Pike’s Peak hillclimb-into-the-clouds on no less than three consecutive years.
On May 18th 2012, Mitsubishi announced that it would be entering the famous Colorado, US hillclimb event with an electric vehicle.
Bearing only a passing resemblance to the i-MIEV sub-compact EV, looking as though it had been on a severe diet of steroids, amazingly, it was powered by the same electric motor as the road car. Actually, that is not true, as three motors powered the tiny racer, its drive battery and other major components, and it was developed in cooperation with several partner companies, including Meidensha Corporation and GS Yuasa Corporation. The i-MiEV Evolution showcased Mitsubishi's advanced EV control and component technologies and the company promised to use the technical knowhow garnered through the build-up testing and the race itself on future models.
Held annually, the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb is both car and motorcycle competition. First run in 1916, the hillclimb celebrates its 103rd running this year. The race starts at an elevation of 2,862m and takes competitors through 156 corners, some with severe drop-offs, on a tortuous but quick 20km tarmac course, to the finish on the 4,301m summit of Pikes Peak. With an elevation difference of 1,439m, atmospheric pressure, temperature, weather and other conditions vary significantly between the start and finish lines. Race week starts with Registration and Tech Inspection on a Monday, followed by the PPHIC Sanctioned Practice day on the Tuesday, then by three days of practice and qualifying. For the latter, the course is split into three sections, Bottom, Middle and Upper, with each division of entries being allotted a different section over the three days. Practice runs on the Bottom section also serve as qualifying and the times recorded on it are used to decide the starting order in each division on Race Day.The Evolution II car was a more streamlined and even punchier development of the 2012 machine. Mitsubishi had worked on methods by which to improve its handling and power delivery. The ultimate 2014 Evolution III was pure racer but retained its electric drivetrain, although the motors had grown to four in number and it was 4WD.
It was a jubilant Mitsubishi that turned two consecutive second places into a final victory on the hill in 2014. Driver Greg Tracy won the Electric Modified Division honours and 2nd overall against a might of immensely powerful petrol and diesel cars. Meanwhile, Hiroshi Masuoka set a time of 9 minutes 12.204s, finishing 2nd in the division and 3rd overall, both Mitsubishis dominating the Electric Modified Division.
Luscombe’s summary: As a practical development ground for the company, Mitsubishi’s motorsport efforts are still feeding its technological enhancements on a number of its road-going models.
Next week: Rally-Raid and Mitsubishi’s role.
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