Wheels (Australia)



days unless you were careful, and the Mitsubishi’s full-time set-up with spin-limiting viscous couplings on the centre and rear diffs added well over 150kg compared to front-drive 3000GT models. Yes, you read that correctly – Mitsubishi also built a front-wheel-drive 3000GT. While the HSR-I and HSR-II concept cars gave strong hints that the Starion replacemen­t would be mid-engined, by the time Mitsubishi previewed the production car (as the HSX) at the Tokyo Show in October 1989, it had become front-engined with a transverse layout. But Mitsubishi’s own press material tried super-hard to keep the dream alive: “the HSX – the Glorious Thoroughbr­ed Heir to the HSR-II” … though the 3000GT did inherit the HSR-II’s active aerodynami­cs. Australia only ever saw the full-flavour VR-4 version of the 3000GT (and not until late-1992!) but underneath its rakish sheetmetal lay the DNA of the Mitsubishi Diamante, aka the (TR-TS) Magna/ Verada. This meant saving costs on the platform as well as using existing componentr­y such as the front suspension and the familiar, transverse­ly mounted 2972cc 60-degree V6 – in some countries in non-turbo form with front-drive and an auto trans! Yet pointing out this powertrain provenance sells the 3000GT VR-4 short because the resulting performanc­e – and, in particular, driveabili­ty – was nothing short of spectacula­r. Featuring two Mitsubishi water-cooled turbocharg­ers with stainless-steel housings (an automotive first) and a pair of air-to-air intercoole­rs, as well as double overhead camshafts with needle roller-bearing rockers, four valves per cylinder, oil-cooled pistons and an ‘active’ exhaust system (with a switchable flap in the muffler), the 3000GT produced 210kW at 6000rpm and a solid 407Nm at 3000rpm in Australian tune. What the figures don’t convey, however, is the strength and smoothness of the 3000GT’s delivery, with muscle on tap well below 2000rpm and full shove already deployed by two-five, seamlessly transition­ing into a forceful mid-range and a useful 7000rpm top end, garnished with a syrupy bent-six snarl. For the early ’90s, a twin-turbo with this level of band-width was virtually unheard of. And that’s despite lugging all that chub! Tied to a Getrag five-speed manual gearbox with dual-cone synchromes­h on first and second, Mitsubishi Oz claimed 0-100km/h in 5.9sec, a standing 400m time of 14.1sec and a top speed of 255km/h – all of which was heady stuff in its day. Not surprising­ly, traction was never an issue with all-wheel drive, ordinarily with a 45/55 front-to-rear torque split but with the ability to send drive to the axle with the most grip. That mechanical purchase was complement­ed by 245/45ZR17 Michelins mounted on broad 17 by 8.5-inch alloys, as well as unusually wide track widths measuring 1560mm at the front and 1580mm rear. And the 3000GT combined that with a relatively short 2470mm wheelbase (ala reborn A90 Toyota Supra) and the agility-enhancing wonder of four-wheel steering. A relatively simple 4WS set-up that only works above 50km/h and only in the same direction as the front wheels, the 3000GT’s multi-link rear suspension (upper and lower lateral links, semi-trailing arms with toe-control links) adds a hydraulic steering system to make the toe links play an active kinematic role. The amount of rear wheel movement varies according to vehicle speed, load and steering angle, and even though the maximum angle is a fairly modest 1.5 degrees, it’s enough to coax surprising direction-change crispness from the 3000GT. Indeed, in a 1993 Wheels racetrack test to find Australia’s besthandli­ng road car, the 3000GT aced the slalom against some pretty decent machinery (R32 GT-R, NSX, Porsche 968 Clubsport). Despite a tendency towards understeer in low-speed corners, and some lightness and on-centre disinteres­t in its steering, the Mitsubishi can be remarkably agile in tight and twisty stuff thanks to all that tech. Contempora­ry tests praised the 3000GT’s throttle adjustabil­ity and lauded its hunger for fast third- and fourth-gear sweepers – the ideal environmen­t for a grand tourer like this to demonstrat­e its unflappabl­e stability. Speaking of tech, we’re yet to mention ECS (for Electronic­ally

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