Here's Why Mitsubishi Stopped Making Performance Cars

We spoke to Mitsubishi UK MD Rob Lindley to understand the company's current direction, and why that doesn't include products like the Lancer Evo
Here's Why Mitsubishi Stopped Making Performance Cars

Mitsubishi’s back-catalogue of performance cars is nothing short of stunning. Even if you ignore the success of 10 generations of the Lancer Evolution on and off the world’s rally stages, there’s a veritable feast of cool cars to choose from. Various versions of the Eclipse, the spectacularly complicated 3000GT, the Starion, the Lancer 1600 GSR, the Galant VR4 - it’s a fast car heritage other manufacturers would kill for.

And yet, they’re all gone, and no successors are planned. The Eclipse name has been resurrected for a crossover, and something similar might happen to the celebrated Evolution badge. But why?

Mitsubishi resurrected the Eclipse name not so long ago, but for a crossover, rather than a sports car
Mitsubishi resurrected the Eclipse name not so long ago, but for a…

At the Geneva Motor Show, managing director of Mitsubishi UK Rob Lindley explained to us the rationale behind the Japanese manufacturer’s current strategy. “Mitsubishi’s focus is now SUVs, crossover, four-wheel drive, along with alternative fuel technology,” he said, adding “Mitsubishi has moved around different brand positionings, whether it’s been Spacestar style vehicles or sports car derivatives, Evo - it’s not had that clarity of focus.”

If you’re going to stick mainly to one kind of vehicle, SUVs are the best bet. Bigger companies are at it too - fairly soon, Ford will sell only SUVs and crossovers in the US, save for the Mustang.

Cars like the Engelberg Tourer concept intend to exploit Mitsubishi's history with four-wheel drive systems
Cars like the Engelberg Tourer concept intend to exploit Mitsubishi's…

The inexplicable shift towards heavy, high-riding vehicles does still seem to leave a small space for sports cars, evidenced by the retention of the Mustang and also examples like Mitsubishi’s Japanese competitor Toyota, which recently reintroduced the Supra. Then there’s Honda, which, having abandoned fast cars for years, brought back the Civic Type R and the NSX. So surely it’s feasible for Mitsubishi to pull off the same trick? The answer is no, sadly.

“As a business that sells 1.2 million cars worldwide, in a global sense, it’s not a big business. If you try and be in all the different segments of the market and follow trends, like sports cars, it would be difficult to be economically viable,” Lindley explains.

Here's Why Mitsubishi Stopped Making Performance Cars

You might think, then, that Mitsubishi’s rich heritage and motorsport pedigree is something of a burden. Lindley doesn’t agree. “I don’t think it’s a curse. Having any kind of fanbase that has a huge following for a brand is always a massive asset because those type of customers drive other vehicles as well. They may love the historical Evos and sports cars, but there’s a good chance they have other kinds of vehicles in the garage.”

With stints at Mazda and Harley-Davidson on his CV, Lindley knows a thing or two about working in brands with illustrious histories. Mitsubishi’s “heritage with four-wheel drive capability” makes the SUV market “a great place to be in,” he maintains.

Here's Why Mitsubishi Stopped Making Performance Cars

In any case, while a vocal bunch, all those longing to buy a new Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution or perhaps a 3000GT successor simply doesn’t amount to a big group of people. “I don’t know how many people focus in on that [performance cars] now. I don’t think it’s a large segment of today’s car market,” Lindley says.

It’s a fair point - Toyota, which sold nearly nine times the amount of cars as Mitsubishi in 2019, was only able to make a business case for the Supra by establishing a joint venture with BMW. And as much as we love the new Honda NSX, sales have been poor.

Sadly, these just aren’t the kind of cars people aspire to anymore, and in that kind of environment, a Mitsubishi Evo XI doesn’t work.



I’m not sure if I want to be in a world where nobody builds sports cars anymore

03/08/2019 - 12:26 |
212 | 4


03/08/2019 - 12:59 |
14 | 2

Same here

03/08/2019 - 13:17 |
20 | 2

If that happens I’m building my own sports cars.

03/08/2019 - 14:12 |
80 | 0

Just build one yourself

03/08/2019 - 19:30 |
0 | 0

Same buddy 😣

03/11/2019 - 19:39 |
0 | 0

I doubt Mitsubishi fans are going to be buying many ASX’s.

03/08/2019 - 12:41 |
66 | 2
RWB Dude

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

100% true

03/08/2019 - 12:59 |
2 | 0

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Their body on frame Pajero Sport SUV is not bad though. It’s based on the L200 Triton pickup truck. It’s got quite a lot of equipment in it, not very comfortable, but it’s a proper off-roader SUV that compete with Toyota Fortuner (global version of Toyota 4Runner). As for the ASX, it’s a very old car that needs refresh/facelift immediately

03/09/2019 - 08:13 |
2 | 0
GTRTURTLE 🔰 🐢(Oo \ S K Y L I N E / oO) (Koen

Besides that fact that they have next to no appeal for car enthusiasts anymore, I am questioning the future of Mitsubishi. They don’t exactly offer something revolutionary or industry leading when it comes to their lineup. I feel like, at least in the states, the only thing they can lead the industry with is pricing, and that is because dealerships have a hard time moving them. I would much rather buy a Toyota or Honda at the same MSRP pricing. To be honest, I don’t see much appeal for a Mitsubishi over something like a Kia or Hyundai crossover.

03/08/2019 - 12:49 |
22 | 0

Honestly i was thinking the same thing, everything they sell is just a little dated in comparison to its rivals. They aren’t going to sell much at all if they keep that trend up and all this money spent on ditching sedans for suvs will just tank them

03/08/2019 - 14:01 |
4 | 2

Mitsubishi has made everything from airplanes to flatware… cars have always been just a branch of their company, which is kinda funny to me because it’s akin to LG or Samsung or the likes making cars. But I think it’s safe to say Mitsubishi will be around for a long time with their current lineup.

03/08/2019 - 16:45 |
14 | 0
RWB Dude

Still doesn’t justify why they name a freakin crossover after one of their legendary sports cars

03/08/2019 - 13:01 |
70 | 2

In reply to by RWB Dude


03/08/2019 - 13:24 |
10 | 0

justifies everything

03/08/2019 - 13:51 |
28 | 2
Extreme Daniel

“If you try and be in all the different segments of the market and follow trends, like sports cars, it would be difficult to be economically viable”.
I completely understand that what Mitsubishi does makes sense, but this statement doesn’t.
SUVs are a trend. A horrible one. Back in the day, the regular status-symbol was a big sedan or, more often, a sports car. Nowerdays, the status-symbol is the daily driver, and i don’t like it.
SUVs make very little sense, are uncool, impractical and i passionately hate them.
So it makes business sense, for now, but it feels morally wrong

03/08/2019 - 13:07 |
46 | 0

Well. Firstly I agree.. but they did say “alternative fuels” and perhaps, just perhaps, Mitsubishi is looking a bit further ahead… maybe they will be the first not to release a flying car, but the first flying sports car… they already did the 3000gt so obviously they have the technology to do it lol.

… here’s to hoping for a silver lining

03/08/2019 - 16:42 |
8 | 0

I will only buy mitsubishi if they bring back the A6M2

03/08/2019 - 13:18 |
0 | 0
Basith Penna-Hakkim

Nothing will replace the Evos in our hearts



03/08/2019 - 13:21 |
32 | 0

I feel like the Eclipse needs some justice as well because they massacred it into a crossover

03/08/2019 - 14:19 |
8 | 2
Basith Penna-Hakkim

The Lancer Evolution will always be the best
Mitsubishi made a huge mistake

03/08/2019 - 13:21 |
2 | 6

They went bankrupt in 2011.
What kind of mistake did they do?

03/08/2019 - 13:51 |
0 | 0

Let’s see how sales will go after the SUV trend (hopefully) dies out

03/08/2019 - 13:25 |
2 | 0

I hope it does too, Right now. Who knows how we’ll feel in 20 years when we’re old and different.

03/08/2019 - 21:48 |
6 | 0

SUVs not gonna die, maybe just a decline. Their body on frame SUV is good, but not so much for their crossovers

03/09/2019 - 09:23 |
6 | 2
Noah Hammerstad


03/08/2019 - 13:32 |
0 | 8



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