Just like Ford versus Holden in Australia, the battle between Subaru and Mitsubishi was one of motorsport’s biggest rivalries. Both companies battled it out on the World Rally Championship stage, with Impreza WRX STIs and Lancer Evolutions vying for space on podiums and bedroom walls. You couldn’t really like both, it was one or the other - blue and gold or red and white.
In the last few years, though, both Subaru and Mitsubishi have suffered drab model ranges and poor sales figures as a result. Subaru is staying for the time being, but Mitsubishi has already confirmed that it’ll be leaving Europe as a whole shortly. It’s a real shame, even if the current model range is burdened with ancient or unfashionable SUVs and the woeful Mirage.
Don’t expect a last-minute u-turn like you’d get in a movie. The sale of Mitsubishi’s heritage fleet shows the brand isn’t planning a return, and the £100k Evo VI TME shows that Mitsu’s heyday has long gone in the UK. We won’t be reporting on a six-figure Outlander PHEV any time soon.
But all is not lost for the owners of Mitsubishis, nor for the staff that occasionally sold someone a car. International Motors, the company that imports Subarus and Isuzus to tbe British Isles, has agreed to take over Mitsubishi UK’s aftersales department. Servicing, maintenance and parts will be moved over to IM, so spares and repairs will still be available for Mitsubishi owners. The dealer network will continue to be open for a little while yet, presumably until it finally flogs the last Eclipse Cross and Shogun Sport. That’ll be semi-good news for the company’s UK staff, too.
Rob Lindley, boss of Colt Car Company (Mitsubishi’s current importers), said: “There is an excellent fit between the Mitsubishi Motors brand and International Motors….I feel very confident that IM will be an outstanding long-term partner to our Mitsubishi dealers too. Once the due diligence process has been completed, the team at the Colt Car Company will work hard to ensure that the transition is a success, thereby ensuring the best possible outcome for our employees, dealers and customers.”
More details will be announced in the coming weeks, but a sense of irony that Subaru and Mitsubishi were at loggerheads for so long and now they’re forced to sit alongside each other under the IM umbrella. Not that any of this will mean anything to the average Mitsubishi owner needing some aftersales care.