At the height of its powers, Ralliart seemed unstoppable. Its European division, founded as Andrew Cowan Motorsports in 1983 before adopting the Ralliart Europe banner a year later, delivered four consecutive World Rally Championship drivers titles in the late 1990s.
In 2010, however, the performance arm suffered an inglorious end when Mitsubishi mothballed it, citing financial pressures. At that time, it had been out of the WRC for a few years, and glory days with Tommi Mäkinen were becoming a distant memory.
Right now, Mitsubishi is again in a tough financial spot, this week reporting a loss of 312 billion yen (about £2 billion) for the 2020 fiscal year. In stark contrast to 2010, though, one of the ways it’s responding is to bring Ralliart back.
During its financial report, the firm promised a “revival of the Ralliart brand” which would help bring about “the realization of Mitsubishi Motors-ness”. In other words, to add a desperately needed bit of spice to one of the car world’s least inspiring line-ups.
“For customers who wish to experience our Mitsubishi-ness, we will launch custom-made accessories for our model lineup as well as re-entering motorsport events around the world,” Mitsubishi CEO Takao Kato said. The presentation slide for the sub-brand’s return features two images: one of an L200/Triton pick-up with a Ralliart makeover, and the other teasing a ‘Ralliart Parts’ offering.
Mitsubishi’s other measures to turn around its fortunes aren’t quite so fun. As announced last year, its ‘Small but Beautiful’ three-year business plan will see it effectively leave the European market, selling only a range of badge-engineered cars from partner company Nissan on the continent. Meanwhile, Mitsubishi is leaving the UK for good, transitioning to a purely aftersales model.