Mitsubishi could make a long-awaited comeback to the world of rally racing in the coming years. It’s open to injecting more performance into its range, but its need for speed won’t spawn a new version of the Lancer Evolution.
Speaking to investors during a shareholder meeting held in Japan, company boss Takao Kato explained the first step towards making quicker, more exciting cars was reviving the Ralliart brand in May 2021. “We plan to expand [Ralliart] to a wide range of models as genuine accessories first, but we will also consider involvement in rallies,” the CEO stated, according to Japanese publication Response. Crucially, a racing program has not been approved yet.
How a potential return to rallying would be orchestrated remains to be seen. In the past, Mitsubishi’s rally superstar was the Lancer Evolution (pictured), which retired without a successor in 2015. The firm’s current range consists of crossovers, SUVs, and pickup trucks with the exception of the Mirage, which is likely too small to credibly turn into a rally car. While it’s tempting to speculate a return to racing will bring the Evo back to the range, even without a Lancer to build it on, Kato doused cold water on the years-old rumors mapping out the nameplate’s future.
He stressed a next-generation Evo is not in the pipeline, even though Mitsubishi’s shareholders are requesting one. “Electrification is expensive, and we’re still not strong enough. We ended the previous fiscal year with a big deficit,” Kato said. “First, we need to revive the company. Then, we’ll look into putting out the cars fans are waiting for.”
His plans to revive the company include launching a number of mainstream models in rapid-fire succession. The Mirage, the Eclipse Cross, and the Outlander Sport recently benefited from an array of updates, most of which were reasonably well received, and the new Outlander was unveiled earlier in 2021 with dramatic improvements.