New Car/Review

1997 MITSUBISHI 3000 GT

by Matt/Bob Hagin

Mitsubishi

SEE ALSO: Mitsubushi Buyer's Guide

SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 27,050
Price As Tested                                    $ 28,195
Engine Type                        SOHC 3.0 Liter V6 w/MFI*
Engine Size                                 181 cid/2972 cc
Horsepower                                   161 @ 5500 RPM
Torque (lb-ft)                               185 @ 4000 RPM
Wheelbase/Width/Length                   97.2"/72.4"/180.3"
Transmission                              Five-speed manual
Curb Weight                                     3157 Pounds
Fuel Capacity                                  19.8 gallons
Tires  (F/R)                                      225/55R16
Brakes (F/R)                                      Disc/disc
Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
Vehicle Type                        Four-passenger/two-door
Domestic Content                                 12 percent
Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.33

PERFORMANCE

EPA Economy, miles per gallon
   city/highway/average                            19/25/22
0-60 MPH                                        9.2 seconds
1/4 Mile (E.T.)                       16.8 seconds @ 85 mph
Top speed                                     (est) 135 mph
     * Multi-point fuel injection

(According to industry surveys, the market for sports cars is declining as cars like the Mazda RX-7 and the Nissan 300ZX disappear. According to Matt Hagin, the planners at Mitsubishi haven't heard the rumor and his dad Bob says he isn't going to tell them.)

MATT - Mitsubishi doesn't seem worried about the fact that automotive business analysts say that the market for sports cars has dried up, Dad. The company has two different sports coupes in its lineup and both of them range from mild to wild under the sheet metal. The semi-casual observer can't tell the difference between the 3000GT's Base, SL and VR-4 trim offered. All three have the same outrageously aggressive styling with projector headlamps and the sensuous spoiler sweeping across the trunk lid.

BOB - That's true Matt, until that observer straps into the driver's seat and nails the accelerator. The base model packs a two-valve version of the single cam, 3.0 liter V6 used in the Montero Sport and while 161 horsepower is OK for general service, its performance can't come close to the 3000GT VR-4, which has twin-cams on each head, twice as many valves and a pair of intercooled turbos as well. It puts out almost twice the horsepower but weighs only 600 pounds more. And while the base model uses the conventional front-wheel-drive with its inherent shortcomings, the VR-4 is full-time all-wheel-drive which delivers power through a complex system that transfers torque to the wheels that can use it best. But for the price difference of almost $20,000, the average GT buyer could probably live with the milder power train.

MATT - But don't forget that there's a mid-spec model in there too, Dad. The SL version of the 3000GT carries the same twin cam four-valve engine as the VR-4 but without the turbos, all-wheel-drive or the fancy rear wheel steering system. The base model I tried at Sears Point Raceway was fast, but not so fast that the average driver gets in over his head. The handling had a predictable amount of understeer and the 225/55R16 tires held on very nicely. The SL version uses 17-inch wheels while the Road Warrior VR-4 rolls on 18-inch hoops. The brakes are discs all around on all models of the 3000GT and even though I ran the car very hard staying up with the other writers who were driving the semi-exotics sportsters from Detroit and Germany, I never experienced any brake fade. I think that the car I drove could have use the same ABS that's in the SL and VR-4, but it isn't even offered as an option in the base model. And driving it as fast as I did, I really appreciated the five-speed manual gearbox. I don't think I would have enjoyed the ride as much if it had the four-speed automatic.

BOB - I didn't drive it nearly as hard as you did, Matt, so I had time to look around the cockpit. I liked the big speedo and tach that sit right in front of the driver and the rest of the analog instruments for water temperature and oil pressure, were easy enough to read, but they stuck off to the right of the steering column. I would have liked them closer to the main gauges. The back seat is either Mitsubishi's idea of a joke or they get some kind of a government break by calling this car a four-seater. It's a sports car without an apology but by making the rear seat-back fold flat, the designers increased the 3000GT carrying capacity to close to station wagon size. Skis or fence posts could be carried back there with ease.

MATT - To further point up the fact that the 3000GT is strictly a two-seater sports coupe, the back seat would have to be modified to hold an infant seat. When Suzanne and I went out in the car, we had to find a baby sitter and being pregnant, Susanne had a heck of a time even getting into the front passenger's seat. Once inside, the car is quite comfortable and the seats give good side support when the car is driven hard. All the versions of the Mitsy 3000GT are fun but sports cars aren't suitable for a small family on limited means.

BOB - How well I know, Matt. I had to sell my MG TC just before your sister Darcy was born in '60 - but I don't regret the swap.

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