Japans Stealth Bomber cruises in.
In the states this car is re-badged as a Dodge, a Dodge Stealth to be precise.
It certainly not it looks that inspired the name, for its a big butch coupe brimming with vents and flutes, and in this ones case carries a flame red paint job that shouts even louder. To my eyes its certainly a good looking car in with more than a hint of Corvette Stingray about its shape, and with a hint of Testarossa around its fluted arches. Its Japanese so of course some of the details like the bonnet vents are a little on the plasticky side, but that's par for the course. Other touches like the popup lights jump up like a mea-cat and being Japanese will probably do so with clockwork reliability till the day the car gets crushed.
Stealth bomber was probably the inspiration for the Yankee name , which is a little strange sure both are technological tour de forces but surely a sports car should be named after a fast fighter plane rather than a Bomber not noted for its speed. Either way its still somewhat more inspired than 3000GT.
Technology abounds around this car, at times it almost feels like the pet project of a bunch of Japanese engineering graduates. Despite pumping out a respectable 280+ bhp The Turbo charged three litre motor is almost missed in a spec sheet that's probably one of the longest around. The lusty motor drives through a 5 speed box to all four wheels, with computer traction control to make sure its all put down in the most efficient manner. Add in multi-mode suspension, and active aerodynamics and it should produce an absolutely stunning drive, fast, safe , sure, its a car which should be tilting at the lower echelons of the European super cars, with the added benefits of Japanese prices, build quality, and reliability.
Now Im sure the reliability is beyond reproach, and bodily it does appear well built, but when the tricky question of price arises its problems start.
New one of these will set you back 45 grand, which puts it in competition with some very hot machinery indeed. Its this headline price that really raises your expectations, you expect certain standards from a 45k car and this car just doesn't live up to it. If you said it was 30k you would still shake your head about it. The problem is the interior, yep it has leather seats, but the rest is so down market as to be an insult to your wallet. It has all the correct visual clues but they are executed in a tacky low rent fashion, at 25k it would be acceptable (just) at these prices its a bit of a joke.
Take the center console with triple round dial cowls ala 240z or classic Alfa, why having designed in an obvious historical sporting gesture do they stick a 50p digital clock in one of the cowls, the acres of grey plastic I can perhaps live with but illogically scattered buttons, seemingly twice as many as needed really do grate. Its the hotch potch that irritates, why do they choose to spend money on a TV screen which shows the direction of the climate controls airflows, yet leave the sunroof with a manual adjuster. To make it worse the adjuster is backwards out of easy reach and would really benefit from electrical power.
Some touches are very nice the seats are electric with the drivers adjusting not only for lumber but for lateral support too which is nice as we're not all the same size..
The purists will claim that these things are secondary and the raw driving experience is what its all about. If getting from A to B as fast as possible was the be all and end all of driving pleasure there would be no complaints about the 3000GT.
Make no mistake with over 280 bhp its nothing if not crushingly fast and as the mountainous turbo peak is harnessed to a smooth 3 litre six, its not the kind of motor that is either bogging down or smoking the tyres . let it rip anywhere above 2000 revs and it will charge all the way to 7000 revs in a lunging streak of ever increasing urgency. The only problem is it doesn't feel that fast, the chassis seems so stable and composed and the engines torque curve so linear, that 280bhp races past almost without notice. Only the rapidly rising speedo needle and the receding stream of other traffic give notice of the engines potency.
The Gear stick is firm but precise apart from a little wooliness around second, the clutch is rather he-manesque which is what you would expect considering what its expected to keep hold of in the engine department, despite their weight punting around in traffic is easy enough but then again you will only be using first and second gear so you don't have many changes to make.
Around town the steering is surprisingly light, and nicely direct, its only as speeds increase that it begins to suffer, its not bad, don't think it is, but its just a tad soft around the centre not quite as positive and responsive as you really would like. Give it more of a twist and the car scurries about pretty well. 4 wheel drive should equal major league grip and stability, and in this respect the 3000GT wont disappoint. get it into a corner apply the power and feel your sides pressed hard into the seat, the cars line stays neutral the chassis feels balanced with no hint of histrionics, and little body roll, but also with little feed back, it corners hard it , it goes very fast , but its all a little too clinical, divorcing the driver from the actual act of going fast, there is almost a feeling that you the pilot are superfluous too the car.
Do high tech electronic gadget make cars handle better or more safely, of course they do, do adjustable gadgets make a real difference, probably, does anything that Mitsubishi let you play with make a difference I doubt it.
Lets look at the high tech gizmos
we've got active suspension switchable between normal and sports mode an we've got active aerodynamics switchable between on off and auto.
Adjustable and active suspension is fairly well proven, on a whole host of cars and no only sports cars but also stuff like Range Rovers. Now I can see the point on stuff like off roaders, where you need vast height for off road and lower ride height to aid stability at speed, whether the benefits are quite so tangible on a low riding coupe Im not sure, the "Soft setting of the GT " was hardly soft even if it is marginally more compliant than you would expect. Sports mode was barely noticeable and certainly not worth the effort of pressing the switch. Its probably not legally possible to need what ever response sharpening behavior it gives.
The Active Aerodynamics are a real puzzle, the ideas simple, flick the switch and the rear spoiler flips either to a flat position, or a steep angle of attack. Now the ideas simple, flat is more streamlined gives less down force more speed more economy. Steep it gives added down force , stability and cornering power. Now consider this, the 3000GT was meant for the states, a country where an oversight putting a warning sign on the cig lighter means some dim wit will first swallow it when hot, then sue you for the damage to their bowels. So the scenario is, some baccy chewing toothless extra from deliverance doing 155 down the interstate, then switching from stable F1 down force to unstable slippery take off shape, car takes off or swaps ends and the next thing you know his 47 dependants are suing you for 10million each. Hmmm somehow I don't think Mitsubishi would take that chance , if it was only Automatic I might believe it works , if they will let me play with it, it probably doesn't do much.
As a practical proposition, the GT is no better or worse than any other coupe, the boot aint large, and the back seats are the usual joke only usable by small children or limbless adults. But its comfortable in the front, rides okay and the engines a pussy on light throttle. There's cassette holders with springs out of James bonds ejector seat, and a centre console with a couple of cup holders that could reasonably double as a picnic hamper. Visibility is good despite the low seat out of the side windows and the front screen and mirrors but the boot lip and spoiler all but block any reversing view out of the rear screen. Trouble is their are some other barely practical very fast coupes about such as the Vauxhall Calibra 4+4 turbo or Fiats Turbo coupe ,( never mind the ever popular top selling BMW 3 series coupe) none of which are quite so over the top as the Mitsubishi, but all of which are a meaningfully large wedge cheaper than this overpriced rocket ship when new.
In the used market massive depreciation of the "stealth" and some grey importing means prices of all three are much closer, for me if they were all about the same price point the Mitsubishi would edge out the Calibra, even if the Calibra does have a nicer cabin, the 3000GT's big butch looks would win the day, but given a choice my money would head towards the Fiat which despite only being front wheel drive, and relatively technologically simple, feels just that little bit special in this company.
If the price is right you could buy a whole heap of car with this Mitsubishi, certainly enough to impress most of yer mates down the pub in a bleached blonde second division footballer cum nightclub owner kind of way. If you find it easier to quote the spec sheet, rather than try too explain the subtleties of why your car is so much better than the sum of its parts then its probably perfect for you.
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