Mitsubishi Reveals Concept-RA Diesel Sports Coupe
By Chris Haak
This evening in Detroit at the North American International Auto Show, Mitsubishi revealed two new vehicles – one a production model and one a concept.
The production model was the Lancer Ralliart, which slots perfectly in the lineup between the Lancer GTS and the no-holds-barred Lancer Evolution. It’s a pretty nice car that sounds great on paper – a twin-clutch transmission shared with the Evolution, a full-time 4WD drivetrain, and a turbocharged 2.0 liter DOHC four cylinder developing an estimated 235 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque.
Next, Mitsubishi revealed the Concept-RA. It’s hard to know what other journalists are thinking when they first see a new vehicle, but those around me seemed to be pretty impressed by this one. In the presentation, the Mitsubishi executives joked about the fact that nearly every manufacturer had some sort of “green” or “environmental responsibility” message to share, so they were no exception. The Concept-RA (which I believe foreshadows the next-generation Eclipse) is powered by a clean (Tier 2 Bin 5) 2.2 liter turbo diesel that produces an estimated 201 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque, while still sipping the oily stuff at over 40 miles per gallon. Although Mitsubishi argues that sports car drivers love torque, I don’t think they generally think of sports cars as the ideal application of diesel power, though Audi may also have something to say about that.
Other than the engine, other mechanical goodies include many of the complex, and very good, parts from the Lancer Evolution such as its all wheel drive system (which includes the acronym soup of ACD (Active Center Differential), AYC (Active Yaw Control), and ASC (Active Stability Control).
The styling of this car is almost perfect. I’ve always found Mitsubishis to be either a too avant-garde (such as the Galant, Endeavor, or the old Eclipse), too plain (such as the old Lancer), too derivative (such as the current Lancer’s Acura TL-like profile), or too bulbous (such as the current Eclipse). The Concept-RA, however, just struck me as a car that had nearly the perfect shape for a sporty coupe. It looked like a Mitsubishi, but without the weirdness.
Mitsubishi officials made no comments about the production likelihood of the Concept-RA or what model it hints at, but the styling language to me clearly told me that it’s a future Eclipse in one form or another.
Audi has made a diesel supercar – will Mitsubishi take the ball and become the first purveyor of a diesel sporty car? Although the Galant and Outlander had great years in 2007, Mitsubishi could probably use a game changing product like a diesel sporty coupe to carve a new niche for itself.
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