The original Lancer, the A70, was the first Mitsubishi to reach the UK market
1978's Colt was launched in response to the fuel crisis, and shared its name with Mitsubishi's UK distributors
A number of hot versions of the second-gen were produced, including models that achieved rally success
The Shogun launched in 1982, badged as Pajero and Montero in other markets
Cooking versions of the Lancer sold in moderate numbers in the UK throughout the 1980s
A variety of configurations and solid off-road performance made it a popular choice among UN peacekeepers around the world
The Starion was badged under the Chrysler, Dodge, and Plymouth marques in North America
The 3000GT, badged in other markets as GTO, was conceived as an NSX rival, and feature four-wheel steer and active aero
1992's Evo I developed 243bhp and was the hottest saloon since the Lancer 2000 Turbo
The Evo II was essentially a facelift with minor chassis changes and a slightly longer wheelbase
The Evo III of '95 saw more aggressive styling and power boosted to 270bhp. It had started to become a feared performance weapon
The Evo IV was built on a new platform, but despite popularity around the world, it still wasn't available in the UK
Another model unavailable to Brit buyers was the Pajero Evolution, a model built to ensure eligibility in the Dakar rally
The Evo V was once more an upgrade of the previous generation. Power stayed at 280bhp but torque was boosted to 275lb ft
The Evo VI was the first Evo to be sold in the UK officially. The Mäkinen edition remains one of the most collectable
The Galant VR-4 was another model imported by the thousand into the UK. It gave up its 4WD system for the Lancer Evo
Tommi Mäkinen finished third overall in the 2001 WRC at the wheel of his Evo VII
The Evo VII gained an active centre diff and gained a reputation as one of the grippiest road cars available
The quirky Colt CZC was designed by Mitsubishi and Pininfarina and was built by Nedcar with final assembly in Turin
The Evo VIII spawned myriad of models, including the FQ400 which had one of the highest specific output of any production car
The Evo XI was available in FQ-300, FQ-320, FQ-340 FQ-360 and FQ-400 flavours
The Pajero has enjoyed huge success in the Dakar rally at the hands of Stéphane Peterhansel
Between 1997 and 2007, the Pajero won the Dakar nine times; seven of them consecutively
The L200 even got in on the act, competing in various off-road motorsport events
But it was more familiar as a workhorse
The Colt CZT was the nearest the firm got to a hot hatch. Its 150bhp could propel it to 62mph in 7.5sec
The second-generation Outlander was twinned with the Citroën C-Crosser and Peugeot 4007
The Shogun continues to find appeal for those looking for uncompromising off-road agility
The Evo X was only the third all-new Evo and ushered in the automatic era to UK buyers with an SST twin clutch 'box
The i-MiEV was a development of the i city car but sold in tiny numbers due to its high price
The standard Lancer failed to capture the imagination of buyers
The ASX was remarkable mostly for its responsive diesel engine which combined decent performance with impressive economy
This year, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation celebrates 40 years of presence in Europe
Mitsubishi’s motoring origins dates back to 1917, when the Mitsubishi Model A – Japan’s first series-production car – was launched.
However it wasn’t until February 1970, under the guidance of successful aircraft engineer Tomio Kubo, that Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Co (MHI) targeted the European export market by forging an alliance with Chrysler – who bought a 15 per cent share. This allowed MHI to spin off its already existing motor division to create Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC).
In 1974, the Mitsubishi Lancer debuted to the European market. Badged as the 'Colt Lancer' – due to MMC’s relationship with UK distributor Colt Car Company Limited – the saloon was available in 12 variants, from entry-level 1.2-litre form to the halo 1600 GSR model – the latter spearheading Mitsubishi’s inaugural assault in rallying and motorsport. Multiple wins on the gruelling Safari Rally in the 1970s – including on its first attempt in 1974 - earned the 1600 GSR the nickname 'King of Cars' in Africa.
Come 1982, the Shogun 4x4 was launched. Named Pajero and Montero in other parts of the world, the Shogun set new standards for a Japanese four-wheel drive SUV: power steering, seat suspension, turbodiesel engines and front double wishbone suspension with torsion bar springs established the Shogun as highly radical compared to 4x4s that went before it. Now in its fourth generation, the Shogun has become a global bestseller.
The 1980s saw Mitsubishi really get into its performance stride. Now with a ferocious appetite for producing quick cars, the firm unleashed the turbocharged, rear-wheel-drive Starion coupé from 1982 to 1989. Engines differed between markets, with Europe gaining the 2.0-litre 4G63 motor (148bhp) and 2.6-litre 4G54 (170bhp) unit in GSR-VR guise. The Starion featured mechanicals that would later be integrated into future performance icons, such as the Lancer Evolution models.
In 1987 the sixth-generation Mitsubishi Galant was launched, adopting taller, more rounded styling over its predecessor. The Galant was offered in VR-4 trim for the first time and production seized in 1993 to make way for the bulkier seventh-generation Galant.
The successor to the Starion came in the form of the Mitsubishi 3000 GT in 1990. The first generation model showcased many of Mitsubishi’s contemporary technologies at the time, including four-wheel steering, active aerodynamics and electronically controlled suspension. With a 3.0-litre twin turbo 24-valve V6 under the bonnet, kicking out 296bhp, the GT3000 was capable of 0-60mph in 5.2sec and going onto 157mph.
This decade saw Mitsubishi flex its technical muscle. In 1990 the company introduced the world’s first traction control system and in 1991 multi-mode ABS. While commercial production of the Libero electric car followed in 1994.
With the increasing success of the Group A rally era during the early 1990s, Mitsubishi pulled the wraps off the Lancer Evolution in 1992. Powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged DOHC engine developing 244bhp and weighing less than 1200kg, the first Evo had Escort RS Cosworth owners shaking in their shoes.
By the end of the century, a blisteringly quick Finnish guy called Tommi Mäkinen had utterly dominated the World Rally Championship, winning four consecutive titles in various Group A specification Lancer Evos. Despite progressing to its latest road-going Evolution X guise, the limited-run Evolution 6.5 Tommi Mäkinen Edition is still regarded as the “one to have”.
In 2002, Mitsubishi Motorsports Europe (MME) was established in order to co-ordinate sales specifically for the European market. The model revitalisation started with the Colt in 2004 and subsequently the Grandis, L200 pick-up – the biggest-selling Mitsubishi vehicle in recent years - and Colt CZC Cabriolet joining the range in 2006. The introduction of the all-new Outlander and revised Shogun followed in 2007.
In 2009 came the unveiling of the i-MiEV (Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle), which proved an important statement from Mitsubishi to the global car industry as the first mass-produced, zero-emission, full electric vehicle. Powered by a 63bhp electric motor and with a top speed of 80mph, the i-MiEV had a range of 80-100 miles. More than 22,000 i-MiEV units have been sold worldwide.
With the arrival of this year’s Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV – the first plug-in electric hybrid crossover from the Japanese car maker – and a return to profit in Europe forecasted for next year, the future looks promising for Mitsubishi Motors Corporation.