In July, we expressed pure horror at Mitsubishi’s latest design direction, as shown by the alarmingly-hideous trio of Genever 2014 concepts at the bottom of this page.
So when did it all go so strange in the Mitsubishi design department?
We are afraid that the amazing 2008 Concept RA is another casualty from the global economic crisis between 2008 and 2013. One of many great ideas put of hold indefinitely, the Concept Ra was widely believed to be a preview of the fifth-generation Eclipse sportscar.
No longer sharing a god-awful chassis with Chrysler, the Eclipse was set to return to its roots as a bad-ass, AWD turbo sports coupe.
Mitsubishi, after all, surely had the platform and technology to share with the Eclipse, thanks to its Lancer and Lancer Evolution chassis and turbo underpinnings.
A racy two-door Eclipse with AWD and a turbo engine could, in theory, appeal to performance shoppers who do not like the boxy sedan appeal of the Lancer Evo, while also being lighter, more slippery and more rigid than any four-door model.
This might not be totally out-of-the-question in the future. As the Outlander and Outlander Sport are now built in the Eclipse’s old factory in Normal, Illinois — the Eclipse would be spun off the Lancer production line in Japan. This would have been required for any turbo and AWD Eclipse flagship anyway, as the US assembly line was better-equipped to handle a big V6 engine as seen in the third-gen and fourth-gen Eclipses. Those cars never achieved anywhere near the enthusiast following of the earlier models.
So would a new Eclipse find a willing market — a market that might pay $5000 more for the two-door than the four-door Evo?
Time will tell, but an exciting Mitsubishi coupe would do wonders for the brand’s appeal — and might even help sell a few more crossovers in the process.
2008 Mitsubishi Concept RA
Mitsubishi is doing great on a few fronts, and simply keeping its head above water on other fronts.
In the realm of PHEV and battery-electric vehicles, the firm is on a great trajectory. The iMiEV has been a pretty large global seller over the last five years by EV standards, and the new Outlander is fully prepped for a PHEV drivetrain that is already on sale in Japan and the UK, along with a few other markets.
The SUV and pickup truck model ranges are still relatively robust sellers, with modern diesel engines and a butch appeal in their style.
But core competencies of Mitsubishi seem to be falling by the wayside more and more as the decade rolls onward. The Outlander Sport and Outlander are relatively strong players in their segments, but the Mirage has been almost universally panned since its US launch. It is a crude machine versus the Mazda2 – that is beyond doubt.
Additionally, the Lancer Evolution is everyone’s favorite rally weapon for actual racetracks — but is growing very, very stale in the style, tech and cabin comfort tallies versus the latest wide WRX models.
All of this is acceptable with some exciting metal on the horizon, one would think.
Until Mitsubishi lifted the covers off this trio of … unique… vehicles in Geneva, Beijing and Tokyo — that is. Will this be the design worn by the next Lancer and Evo? Eek.
The latest design trend is also seen in the Mitsubishi Vision Gran Turismo Concept — which can be thought of as something like an Outlander Sport ‘Evolution.’
This GT6 racer concept is based on the XR-PHEV — by far the best of the bunch, style-wise.
2015 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
As a giant industrial innovator, like GE or Samsung, Mitsubishi has the resources to hire and achieve the best. And be happy with its niche markets.
The worry is that all this new tech is paired with lousy cabins and bizarre exterior designs.
Time will tell how Mitsubishi develops these designs for production. But on the face of these concepts, things are not looking pretty.
Lastly, the names of these cars are by far their worst bits — even beyond their hideous facial expressions.
2014 Mitsubishi Concept GC-PHEV
2014 Mitsubishi Concept XR-PHEV
2014 Mitsubishi Concept AR-PHEV