Japanese firm takes covers off Concept RA, the inspiration for the next Eclipse
14 January 2008

An all-new, right-hand drive version of the Mitsubishi Eclipse came a step closer to UK roads yesterday, when the RA concept was revealed at a packed Detroit show unveiling.The swoopy-looking RA – short for Ralliart – took centre stage alongside the new Lancer Evo X and two blasts from Mitsubishi’s past, a 1981 Lancer EX2000 Turbo rally car campaigned by Penti Airikkala and a 1973 Gallant coupe.Backing up the launch were rallying videos of Airikkala flinging the Lancer Turbo around The 1000 Lakes rally in Finland. But the classics were made to look archaic and underwhelming by the butch and wide-tracked RA, with its bulging arches and arcing roofline.Sharing its wheelbase with the Lancer Evo but sitting on a 100mm wider- track, the RA featured a novel black-painted engine cover in place of a conventional bonnet.

Coming to Britain

With Mitsubishi now eyeing global markets for all its cars, the Eclipse-replacement will be engineered for all markets, including Europe. “We will do that for all our future cars,” says product strategy chief Shinichi Kurihara. Both coupe and convertible bodystyles are in the product plan.Like many concepts at Detroit, the RA had a green twist – a 40-plus mpg diesel engine that Kurihara says will pass tough new US exhaust emissions standards.Much of the talk at Detroit centred on new US government average fuel economy standards of 35mpg, a difficult benchmark for many current models, but not for Mitsubishi's diesel-engined RA. Its 2.2-litre 16v direct injection diesel includes a urea catalyst (like Mercedes’s new Bluetec set-up), makes 310lb ft of torque, and drives through all four wheels.The car is due on sale around 2009, and is likely to be badged as Eclipse when it comes to Europe and the UK.

Julian Rendell

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