Despite hobbling through the Covid-19 pandemic and despite its clear move away from traditional hatchbacks and sedans, there has been plenty of speculation lately about Mitsubishi and the notion that it could bring back its iconic Lancer Evolution nameplate.
It makes sense, in a way. Old Evolutions are experiencing a boom in prices on the second-hand market, spurred on by rising levels of interest in Japanese performance cars from bygone eras. It would also dovetail with Mitsubishi’s recent confirmation that it would be bringing its Ralliart division back to life in the hopes of energizing the brand and improving its image.
Well, any pipe dreams that the news would mean a new Lancer Evolution has been put to rest by Mitsubishi Motor Company CEO Takao Kato and Vice President Hiroshi Nagaoka. Speaking at the firm’s annual general meeting, Nagaoka was brief, saying that “at present, there are no sedan-type or sports car-type product plans.”
In the same meeting, Kato was slightly more sympathetic to the idea. “Now we need to redefine the Mitsubishi character, and after incorporating the opinions of people who know the fun of old-fashioned Mitsubishi Motors, we decided to revive Ralliart,” he said. “I understand that sports cars are the flower of an automobile manufacturer.”
Away from the general meeting, though, Kato has reportedly been as dismissive of the notion as Nagaoka. Speaking to Japanese outlet Response, he was blunt, saying that “the company is still not strong enough” to bring back the Lancer Evolution.
Response’s report includes one fascinating detail. Apparently, Mitsubishi’s shareholders are big fans of the idea of bringing back the Lancer Evolution … perhaps acting on the positive impact the GR Yaris hot hatch has had for Toyota.
In the absence of a fettled Lancer, the return of the Ralliart division will result (at least initially) in gravel-bashing variants of the Triton and Outlander. Those waiting for a Lancer Evolution comeback might have to wait until the age of electrification.