A Forgotten Star : Mitsubishi GTO Twin Turbo
A powerful sport coupe with sophisticated gadgets like a GTR combined with a sleek body like a Mazda RX-7.
That was what Mitsubishi was aiming for when they created the GTO Twin Turbo, sold in the U.S as the 3000 GT VR-4. It does away the boxy look of a GT-R or the bulkiness of a Supra and went for a low profile, sleek shape of an RX-7 or the Honda NSX.
To keep up with the other rivaling Japanese automakers, Mitsubishi drenched the GTO with technology like giving the robust 3.0 V6 two turbochargers with a bigger intercooler to produce 300hp. To keep all that power at bay, all wheel drive with four wheel steering was added with electronically controlled suspension. That wasn’t all, it’s got active aero with the rear spoiler rises at high speeds to improve stability, and even an active exhaust system that can change exhaust decibel by the touch of a switch. Both of these gadgets started to gain popularity in the past few years when the GTO had it back in the '90s.
So why was it forgotten? All that innovation comes at a price. At over $45k, it is rather expensive at the time in comparison to its closest rival the Toyota Supra which produced more power for around $3k less. The innovative tech also added a significant amount of weight, at 3,800 pounds it is the heavyweight in the group of Japan’s “Bubble Era” sportcars with the GTR being a good 400 pounds lighter. This made the GTO’s handling despite having AWD and 4WS cumbersome.
In the end, sale for the GTO wasn’t brilliant. With the updates Mitsubishi did after the 1993 model year didn't do it any favor.
Like the R33 GT-R I reviewed last week, the GTO was portrayed in the wrong perspective. People expected the GTO to be as nimble and racy as a GTR, RX-7, or the Supra. But in reality, the GTO was aiming to be a gentleman's sportscar, a grand tourer that chews up the miles on the freeway rather than bombing downhill on some twisty mountain roads. It's a shame that Mitsubishi’s devotion to creating a high tech performance car didn’t pay off.
In a way though, the joke is on us. Because we will go down on our knees to beg, pray, anything to ask Mitsubishi to bring these back rather than all the ugly crossovers and plastic subcompacts they produce now.