IT’S NOT so much goodbye as the last orders bell being rung, at ten-and-a-bit minutes to eleven. I suspect Mitsubishi will be getting a double round in, sticking a few quid in the jukebox, and sitting tight until the last possible moment.
You might have already heard this week that it’s effectively chucking out time for the Japanese carmaker’s UK models, but don’t for a moment think that its showrooms are all going to shut next week – far from it, in fact.
Even so, the decision to stop bringing new models to the UK, and to take the current ones off the shelf the moment they no longer comply with emissions regulations, is a bitter moment in a motor industry that’s been besieged by one blow after another as sales fell off a cliff during the national lockdown.
Even though the Outlander PHEV spent years as the nation’s best-selling plug-in vehicle and the L200 took a sizeable chunk of the increasingly lucrative pick-up market, Mitsubishi has decided to focus its efforts on other markets, particularly Asia, instead.
Which is a shame, because with the exception of the utterly dreadful Carisma of the Nineties – which, ironically, was utterly devoid of charisma – I don’t think that it’s ever foisted a truly bad car on us Brits. Certainly, the 30-year-old Galant we run at Classic Car Weekly, which we’ve been trying to nurse to 250,000 miles, has had its fair share of niggles but it steadfastly refuses to give up, no matter how many mega-mileage drives we throw its way.
The Shogun is an off-roading institution – in fact, I’d argue the Eighties original is firmly into classic car territory now, doing everything the Range Rover did, only more reliably. And I can’t venture halfway into a column about old Mitsubishis and not get misty-eyed about the Evo VI Tommi Makinen, a swivel-eyed loon of a turbocharged saloon that devoured greasy B-roads better than anything else on sale at the time.
My own particular favourite was the Evo’s less unhinged and cheaper sibling – the Galant VR4, which they sold as part of its Ralliart range at the turn of the century. It wasn’t as showy as the rally-bred Evo, but that was part of the appeal – it might not have had an enormous rear wing or a little pump that squirted water on the intercooler during press-on driving, but it packaged four-wheel-drive and a 280bhp twin turbo V6 behind a body that didn’t shout about its performance credentials. It was an Evo for people who don’t like being looked at.
Maybe that’s the problem with Mitsubishi these days – we’ve all forgotten they’ve made some cracking cars over the years.
Hopefully the bigwigs in Japan will see sense, invest in more on-trend electric cars and bring them over here… and reinvent the Evo while they’re at it.
Until then, best get your orders in before the bar shuts.
David Simister is the editor of Classic Car Weekly