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Mitsubishi Celebrates 40 Years in the UK


CIRENCESTER – Mitsubishi Motors in the UK are delighted to invite you to their 40th birthday celebrations at this year’s SMMT Day which is taking place at Millbrook Proving Ground on Thursday, 22nd May.

Various activities across the summer months, including the Mitsubishi Motors Grand Tour at the end of May, will mark a remarkable 40 years of Mitsubishi Motors in the UK.

Fancy joining the party? Drop by to the Mitsubishi stand where you will be able to drive a whole array of cars dating back from 1974 through to the all-new Outlander PHEV and experience the “Evolution of Mitsubishi”; there’ll be lots of fun and party activities too!

The 1974 Lancer

Start with Mitsubishi’s 1974 Lancer – one of the first official vehicles imported into the UK and an original press car, the Lancer is where it all began.

The Lancer was an ambitious car and was the first Mitsubishi with which Europeans fell in love. It used reliable mechanicals, economical engines ranging from 1.2 to 1.6 litres and had an attractively-styled body. Put simply, it created a concept that many Mitsubishis have followed since.

Moreover, the Lancer was good at creating another enduring image of the brand – a winner in motorsport. In 1600 GSR form, the Lancer was a potent rally weapon and found great success in a number of rally events – most importantly of all, it took the spoils in the gruelling Safari Rally of Kenya. A factory team of Lancer 1600 GSRs was entered in what was deemed the toughest rally in the world between 1974 and 1977, a high point being the 1976 event where Mitsubishi took first, second and third places.

Since then, the Mitsubishi Lancer has been inextricably linked to rallying and Mitsubishi has rightly earned itself a reputation for building strong and sturdy cars that can take on anything.

1979 Willys Jeep

Mitsubishi has always had a long and prestigious history with four-wheel-drive off-roaders, and the story started way back in the 1950s. The American car company Willys licensed its famous Jeep J3 to Mitsubishi in July 1953 – and the final Mitsubishi Jeep rolled off the production line in August 1998. It was a deal that created one of the longest-serving four-wheel-drive off-roaders in history.

The key to the Mitsubishi Jeep’s success was its simplicity. Almost bullet-proof mechanicals, sturdy construction and a plethora of model variations made the Mitsubishi Jeep incredibly well loved by Japanese buyers for 45 years. When the first Jeeps were built by Mitsubishi in the early 1950s, they were very similar to their American counterparts, even down to the steering wheel being on the left-hand side. But in time, Mitsubishi adapted the Jeep to take right-hand drive, offered the car in short, medium or long wheelbase form and let buyers choose from a mind-boggling array of bodystyles.

Over its 45-year production run, Mitsubishi naturally refined and adapted the simple – if sparse – Jeep concept. Initially, the Mitsubishi Jeep was only available with a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine that developed around 68bhp. But during the 1960s, Mitsubishi offered the Jeep with a wider range of engines, including a locally-produced unit and a diesel engine.

The final Mitsubishi Jeep rolled off the production line in August 1998 – and only because of more stringent emissions levels. Over the course of its production life, more than 200,000 were made. And while it owes its existence to the Americans, it’s fair to say the final Japanese Jeep was more Mitsubishi than Jeep.

1986 Starion Wide Body

Fans of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution around the world have to be thankful for the Starion of the 1980s. Why? Because not only did it showcase brand new technology; but it also created a blueprint of the modern-day Japanese performance car. Japan has long had a love affair with the two-door coupe genre, and even more so performance cars. Mitsubishi decided to fuse these two obsessions together in 1982 with the Starion 2+2 coupe.

Until 1986, the Starion was only ever offered with a punchy 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine in Europe – a unit which not only found its way into the Lancer Evolution series of the 1990s, but also made the Starion the first Japanese production car to use computer-controlled fuel injection and turbocharging. Such was the pace of change in the 1980s; the Starion received constant upgrades and improvements over its seven-year lifetime to keep it at the top of buyers’ shopping lists despite some tough pressure from Toyota’s ZX series and Mazda’s RX-7.

2001 Mitsubishi Tommi Makinen Edition Lancer Evolution VI

Take one look at the list of famous rally cars, and the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI World Rally Car would sit alongside such giants as the Lancia Stratos Audi Quattro, Mini Cooper S and the Ford Escort.

Thanks to the Lancer of 1973, Mitsubishi’s links to the world of rallying were strong – and they got even stronger during the 1990s as the company arguably dominated the sport. Works driver Tommi Makinen clinched the World Rally Championship driver’s title four years on the trot in 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999 and thanks to the help of his British teammate Richard Burns, Mitsubishi also sealed the 1998 World Rally Championship constructors’ title.

In road car form, the Lancer Evolution VI was already a potent machine. Using a turbocharged, in-line four-cylinder 2.0-litre petrol engine developing 276bhp, the Evolution VI could hurtle to 60mph in just over 4.5 seconds and onward to a top speed of 150mph – that was supercar performance from a four-door saloon that cost just £32,995. Factor in huge Brembo brakes, four-wheel drive and clever Active Yaw Control, and the Evolution VI could lay claim to being the fastest thing on four wheels in the late 1990s. And to celebrate its and Makinen’s dominance of the World Rally Championship, Mitsubishi decided to create a special limited edition in 2000. Available in blue, white, silver or in Makinen’s rally livery of red and Ralliart stripes, the Tommi Makinen Edition Lancer Evolution VI is famous in the world of special editions. It gained white Enkei alloys, a different front bumper and Recaro seats with ‘T Makinen Edition’ stitched into them. Fourteen years on, they are hugely desirable among collectors. Drive it for one day only at the SMMT day[1] - pre booking advisable via the Mitsubishi Press Office.

All-new Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Representing a hugely exciting opportunity for Mitsubishi Motors in the UK, the all-new, eagerly awaited Outlander PHEV will make a dramatic entrance into Mitsubishi showrooms all across the UK later this month although customers are already placing orders.

The newly launched, assertive Outlander PHEV offers a very comforting sense of quiet, protection and safety to its occupants – a quality car of substance designed for long-haul travelling, it’s more economical, dynamic, safe, has outstanding environmental credentials (with emissions from 44 g/km) and 4x4 capability. With this in mind, the new Outlander PHEV represents the greenest, most stylish and most technologically advanced truly segment-leading SUV.

And, perhaps most importantly, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV is the only plug-in hybrid in the UK market that does not carry a price premium over its’ internal combustion engine equivalent. This means that entry-level GX3hOutlander PHEV is on sale for just £28,249 after the P-iCG grant[2]. Take a drive and see for yourself.

We look forward to you seeing you on 22nd May at Millbrook.