The Mitsubishi FTO – despite being the younger brother of the 3000GT/GTO – was a great car in its own right.
In fact, it was good enough to win the coveted 1994 Car of the Year award in Japan when it launched, originally as a JDM-only car.
Contemporary reviews praised the FTO’s combination of attractive styling, competent handling, and punchy performance, especially from the 2.0 V6 engine cars (and most notably the MIVEC-equipped cars, which were the most powerful options).
If you are on the market for a Japanese modern classic and want a quirky curious from the 1990s, then you could do far worse than the FTO.
But is the Mitsubishi FTO fast? In its heyday it was certainly a fairly quick car, at least in the V6 engined form. However, does the FTO hold up by modern standards?
In this edition of Car Facts we are going to look more closely at whether or not you can consider the FTO a fast car.
If you’re on the market for a cool Japanese classic but you need something with a decent turn of pace, is the FTO going to satisfy? Let’s find out more.
How Fast Is The FTO?
For the purposes of this article, I’m going to assume you are looking at the V6 engined FTO.
The 1.8 litre 4 cylinder is not particularly powerful, so don’t expect much in the way of 0-100 times, maybe around 9.5-10 seconds on a good day – which is definitely not quick by today’s standards.
Most enthusiasts want to get their hands on a V6-powered FTO, ideally the top spec V6 that came equipped with MIVEC (a bit like Mitsubishi’s answer to VTEC).
MIVEC V6 FTOs came with about 200hp as standard.
The 0-100kph/0-60mph time for the MIVEC V6 FTO was quoted at the time of launch by Mitsubishi as being 6.9 seconds.
However, acceleration times are notoriously unreliable, as they are very dependent on the skill level of the testing driver, the road conditions at the time of testing etc.
On FTO forums and owner sites we have seen some owners report 0-100 times of as low as 6.5 seconds, but the majority of reports are around 7-7.5 seconds.
Considering that cars lose a bit of power with age and mileage, you could probably expect 7.5 seconds out of a decent MIVEC FTO these days, with anything under that a bonus.
On a non-MIVEC V6, you could realistically expect around 7.5-8.5 seconds, depending once again on your ability to launch the car, road conditions and condition of the vehicle.
Let’s assume you can achieve a 7 second 0-100 time with a top-spec FTO – does that qualify as quick?
I’ve got a 2021 Suzuki Swift Sport with a 1.4 litre turbo engine. The Swift can do 0-100 in about 7.5 seconds, perhaps slightly faster if it is truly launched hard and driven by someone with more talent than myself (there are plenty of videos on YouTube with times closer to 7 seconds).
Although the Swift is not the world’s best hot hatch, it’s a decent barometer for what would constitute a sufficiently quick car for the average person. In normal, everyday driving conditions it never feels less than adequately fast – and it’s fast enough that passengers will comment on it if you really put your foot down.
A V6 FTO can keep up with, and probably even beat, a Swift Sport in a 0-100 dash. If the Swift Sport is a sufficiently fast car, then the FTO must be as well.
In fact, in terms of 0-100 acceleration time the MIVEC-equipped FTOs aren’t far off more impressive modern hot hatches like the Ford Fiesta ST, VW Polo GTI and Hyundai i20n.
The FTO isn’t just pleasingly quick in a straight line either – these cars can be hustled around the bends. Don’t believe me? Here’s an exciting track battle from a 1997 episode of Best Motoring, showing the FTO GP Version R (admittedly the best FTO that was built, and the most desirable model) performing well in a circuit race against a number of supposedly superior 1990s performance cars like the DC2 Integra Type R and Civic Type R.
Recap – Is The Mitsubishi FTO Fast?
If you’re on the market for an FTO, then you should know that the FTO is fast enough (at least in the V6 engine spec, and ideally with MIVEC).
The four cylinder models are definitely a bit gutless by modern standards, but most prospective buyers reading this site are likely to be eyeing up a V6 model anyway.
0-60mph/0-100kmh times are around 7-8 seconds for the GPX and GPvR cars, depending on who you ask, how good they are at driving, and which transmission the car has. Some have even claimed times in the high 6s.
Without MIVEC, you won’t be going as fast and you’ll miss out on the high-revving nature of the technology, but you will still be driving something that is quick enough to have fun with.
While modern high-end performance cars are smashing out 0-100 times of three seconds flat, the FTO still holds its own when you consider it wasn’t the pinnacle of performance in its day anyway.
In fact, the acceleration time of a MIVEC-equipped FTO is not too far off what you would get with a modern hot hatch like a Hyundai i20n or Ford Fiesta ST – it’s just that the power delivery is achieved in a very different manner, thanks to the high-revving NA V6.
Long story short, unless you need to be driving the most powerful, fastest car on the road (in which case you wouldn’t be looking at an FTO anyway) then you won’t be disappointed with the performance of one of these beautiful, quirky pieces of Japanese motoring history.
Although car technology has evolved massively in the near-30 years since the FTO first debuted, there is something still so appealing and enjoyable about revving out a smooth, naturally-aspirated engine like the V6 found in the FTO.
The FTO is a good car. It isn’t the greatest Japanese performance car ever, but there is a lot positive to say about it. And unless you have a true need for speed, the FTO is plenty fast enough to be enjoyable on a daily basis.
If you’re interested in buying an FTO, then make sure you read our Mitsubishi FTO buyer’s guide here for more information on this great car.