Getting the combination of looks, performance and handling dynamics right in a car is much harder a task than you’d think. Many car manufacturers have got it spot on over the decades, while there are many more who got it wrong. There are countless models that had the looks to kill, but left a lot to be desired in the performance front. One such was the Mitsubishi FTO, a sportscar made between 1994 and 2000, which turned out to be a sales dud despite its promising appearance.
It just didn’t have the firepower to back the beguiling looks. With a front-wheel drive layout, and a base engine that made just 123bhp, it was not exactly the stuff great sportscars were made of. And Mitsubishi thought it could mask this lack of oomph with a dash of Latin flair in its name. Even here, it failed to get it right. Although it sounds similar the celebrated GTO moniker, in Mitsubishi’s lingo, FTO stood for Fresco Turismo Omologato, or Fresh Touring Origination. If you were wondering, it made no sense in either language.
What made even less sense was the Japanese automaker’s decision not to build left-hand drive versions of the car. This ruled out selling it in markets that would have happily snapped it up, especially in the more powerful V6 powered guise. Strangely, Mitsubishi continued pushing the dull and bulbous Eclipse in those markets. Although it was eventually sold in New Zealand and the UK apart from the domestic market, sales didn’t take off the way the carmaker hoped.
With sales dwindling drastically towards the end of the Nineties, Mitsubishi pulled the plug on the FTO.
It would have been a completely different story though, if they had made left-hand drive versions and did an AWD variant like they did with the Eclipse. But alas, they didn’t.