The Mitsubishi 3000GT could return to dealers as a hybrid sports car, according to a new report, replacing the Lancer Evolution as Mitsu’s sole sports car. But is this just wishful thinking on the part of mourning fanboys, or a real attempt to resurrect a Japanese performance icon.
Alright, “performance icon” might be a bit generous, but the Mitsubishi 3000GT (known as the Mitsubishi GTO in Japan) was a something of a contender in the early to mid 90s. The VR-4 variant got a twin-turbo V6 which delivered between 276 and 320 horsepower through a cutting-edge all-wheel drive and four-wheel steering system, just some of the many advanced technologies on the Mitsu coupe.
Unfortunately, the cramped engine bay made it an unlikely candidate for aftermarket performance, and high cost (starting around $30,0000 and topping out at over $50,000) made the 3000GT a niche market vehicle at best. Once the Mitsu-Chrysler alliance ended in tears, the 3000GT was left without its corporate cousin, the Dodge Stealth, to help shoulder production costs. The 3000GT soldiered on alone until 1999, when it was finally canned, and replaced with the Lancer Evolution.
And so we find ourselves, 15 years later, reading a report in one hand about the cancellation of the Evo, and in the other hand, the resurrection of the 3000GT. Full freakin’ circle, baby.
The idea of bringing back a Mitsubishi performance car as a 2+2 coupe, instead of a sedan, was raised by Mitsu’s U.K. chief Lance Bradley. Though Bradley didn’t mention the 3000GT by name, the only other coupe from Mitsubishi’s past was the Eclipse, which ditched all pretense of performance to cater to the O.C. crowd.
The Eclipse was also cancelled, by the way, and it was never sold as a technological powerhouse. The 3000GT though? It would be a great candidate for a modern performance hybrid, perhaps borrowing the plug-in drivetrain from the hot-selling Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, which also utilizes all-wheel drive. In my mind, it’s a no brainer, but the suits have to make a business case for such a car. The Lancer Evolution was rumored to get a hybrid drivetrain, but that obviously didn’t pan out.
Is Mitsubishi ready to make such a daring vehicle? The allotment of funds and resources might be better used expanding more popular models, but the Mitsubishi brand isn’t doing too well in America right now. An exciting new performance car with a cutting edge, hybrid drivetrain could do the trick.