A Case Study In The Demise Of Mitsubishi

The other day I enjoyed a nice family morning out at the Christchurch “A&P” show. For anybody familiar with Christchurch/Canterbury in New Zealand, you’ll know that this is perhaps the biggest event on the calendar for the city and is where town and country comes together. It’s also nice that we get a public holiday day off to boot! 

Farmers and agricultural people come from afar to the (relatively) ‘big smoke’ to look at new machinery and equipment and connect, and townies such as myself go to take their kids to see interesting farmyard animals and spend too much money on junk food and sugary drinks. All in all, a great day out.

Because of the high volume of foot traffic, car dealers (alongside businesses selling everything from spa pools to deep sea fishing boats) also tend to operate a presence.

Mitsubishi had a fairly prominent stand, and it was a fascinating case study into the demise of the brand – at least from a car enthusiast’s perspective.

Anecdotally, Mitsubishi has enjoyed a bit of a renaissance here in the New Zealand market over the past few years owing to its expanding range of PHEV vehicles, namely the Eclipse Cross and Outlander. Factoring in the already reasonable pricing, and then adding government discounts/rebates on top, the Eclipse Cross particularly is a very affordable new car option for getting into a practical, safe and reliable electrified vehicle.

The majority of the Mitsubishi cars on display at “The Show” were various trims of the Eclipse Cross and Outlander PHEV. But there was one vehicle that simply stole the show.

Parked out the front of the Mitsubishi stand was an immaculate condition Lancer Evo 6.5 ‘Tommi Makinen’ edition.

Widely considered to be perhaps the best Evo of them all (and certainly one of the coolest looking and most timeless) this museum-piece exhibit was a genuine show-stopper.

You could actually see wry smiles on the faces of the Mitsubishi stand attendants, as an unending stream of punters (mostly 30+ males like myself who grew up dreaming of such a car) lined up for photos, and to peer inside the immaculate cabin. People would run up, take a few photos, and then flee before having the opportunity to be pitched on some white-goods ASX crossover of Eclipse Cross PHEV.

While modern Mitsubishis are actually very good cars, the buzz around this 25 year old Evo goes to show how much car enthusiasts – particular JDM fans – still long for the good old days of Mitsubishi building genuine performance cars like the Evo, the 3000GT/GTO and even ‘junior’ performance models such as the FTO.

Mitsubishi has been abundantly clear that they will not bring back the Evo, and their future lies in building boring but competent PHEV and EV vehicles, mainly crossovers.

The whole spectacle really was a case study in how far Mitsubishi has fallen as a brand for car enthusiasts. For the average punter, their lineup is probably better than ever. Apart from the truly average Mirage, everything else Mitsubishi offers these days is a good car and competitive in its class.

But let’s be real, any true car enthusiast would take the Evo and all its attendant flaws and quirks any day of the week. 

The only other exhibit that matched up in beauty and presence? This superb chook:

If you’re interested in buying an Evo of your own, then read our Mitsubishi Evo buyer’s guide here.


  • Sam

    Sam focuses mainly on researching and writing the growing database of Car Facts articles on Garage Dreams, as well as creating interesting list content. He is particularly enthusiastic about JDM cars, although has also owned numerous European vehicles in the past. Currently drives a 3rd generation Suzuki Swift Sport, and a Volkswagen Touareg (mainly kept for taking his border collie out to the hills to go walking)

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