Mitsubishi Motors' SST Previews Sports Car Design for the Next Millennium
5 January 1998Mitsubishi Motors' SST Previews Sports Car Design for the Next Millennium
Southern California Designed Concept Has `Geo-Mechanical' Styling Theme DETROIT, Jan. 5 -- Mitsubishi Motors' SST concept car, making its international debut at the North American International Auto Show, previews advanced sports car styling for the next millennium. Designed and built at the Mitsubishi Motors Research and Design of America (MRDA) studio in Cypress, Calif., the SST -- which stands for sophisticated, sports touring -- embodies a "geo-mechanical" theme that is expected to appear in future production vehicles from Mitsubishi Motors. "The SST's geo-mechanical styling is inspired by common shapes and forms that represent strength, power and motion," said Dan Sims, chief designer at MRDA and lead stylist for the sports car concept. "We incorporated elements from classic architecture, sleek high-speed trains, even the flexed human bicep to create a strong, solid styling statement for the SST that can be best described as `metal in motion.'" Purposeful and Deliberate Exterior Design Indeed, every design aspect of the SST has a purpose. Its ribbed sides add structural integrity while housing the side guard door beams. A series of grilles provides cooling for the engine and brakes and creates a consistent design element. The tail lamps, rear turn signals and reverse indicators are made from neon and florescent lights to have higher intensity, despite their small size, than conventional units. And, to further carry out the functional theme, even the single exhaust outlet has become a significant and purposeful design element. As part of geo-mechanical design philosophy, the SST is constructed of materials -- including composites and carbon fiber -- which are in their rawest, purest form. In fact, even the SST's iridescent exterior color mimics the cadmium green of tooled metal. Perhaps, however, the most dramatic design element of the SST's exterior is its exaggerated wheel arches. Covering massive 20-inch aluminum wheels and Z-rated tires, the spherically-shaped quarter panels were designed by Sims to "appear as if the wheels were ball bearings being thrust through the surface." Simple, Uncluttered Interior The SST's interior is as unassuming as the exterior is extroverted. One of the simplest and uncluttered designs of any concept car in recent memory, the SST's interior incorporates only what is necessary for a spirited driving experience. The large, electroluminescent gauges, which surround a large tachometer, take center stage in front of the driver. Yet, the focal point of the SST interior design was inspired by the ergonomic simplicity of a computer mouse. "Working late one night on my new computer, I realized its functions were entirely controlled by simply pushing-and-clicking the mouse, while my eyes remained on the monitor," said Sims. "I began to think about how this same idea could be used in the SST concept car so that its driver could focus on the road while still being able to easily activate the vehicle's entertainment and comfort functions." Bringing this concept to reality, conventional switches for the SST's automatic climate control and 350-watt audio system have been incorporated into a single, computer controlled interactive device. A large color monitor in the center console displays "virtual knobs" that are activated by an articulating disc-shaped control on the floor console. The interactive device also includes communication, satellite navigation and entertainment functions. And, to continue the geo-mechanical theme of its exterior, the SST's interior color was selected to be similar to that of titanium, with carbon fiber, billet aluminum and cream-colored leather accents. The seats are specially contoured for spirited driving as well as long-term comfort, and, distancing itself from conventional sports cars, there's plenty of storage capacity. Not Just for Show Unlike many other concept vehicles, the Mitsubishi SST is a fully driveable car. Powered by a turbocharged, 210-horsepower 4-cylinder, the SST is designed to accept the full range of Mitsubishi Motors' engines, including the 3.5-liter V6 that powers the flagship Diamante luxury performance sedan and top-of-the-line Montero luxury sport utility vehicle. The SST's four- speed automatic transmission can be operated conventionally, or through its sports mode and a flick of its billet aluminum shifter, as a manual. A sophisticated, multi-link four-wheel independent suspension helps carry out the spirited performance that the exterior and high-performance powerplant promises. And, when its time for the fun to end, the SST's enormous racing brakes with multi-piston calipers provide exceptional stopping power. The Cypress, Calif.-based Mitsubishi Motors R&D Design Studio is one of three design studios worldwide contributing to the interior and exterior designs of cars and light trucks built by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation. Among its many projects, the Cypress studio was responsible for the designs of the current-generation Eclipse sports coupe and convertible, updates for the 3000GT grand touring sports car, as well as the interior of the upcoming 1999 Galant. Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America, Inc. was established in 1982 by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, Tokyo, and markets a full line of vehicles, including coupes, convertibles, sedans and sport utility vehicles. SOURCE Mitsubishi Motor Sales of America, Inc.