A front-engined, front-wheel drive coupe manufactured and introduced by Mitsubishi in 1994. It remained in production until 2000 and was primarily produced for the Japanese domestic market. However, it was able to gain some popularity in United Kingdom, Ireland and New Zealand as grey market import and forced the company for limited distribution of FTO via official dealers of Mitsubishi in those countries. In its debut year, the Mitsubishi FTO won the 1994-1995 Car of the Year Japan award.
The name FTO stands for ‘Fresh Touring Origination’, which reminds us of the 1971 Galant FTO Coupe, the company’s first sports cars.
Mitsubishi FTO came with only 2-door coupe body style and all of them were front-wheel drive. They came with either transversely mounted V6 engine or straight-4 engine paired with a 5-speed manual or INVECS-II semi-automatic transmission. However, in the beginning, it was available with 4-speed transmission.
October 1994–August 1997
Mitsubishi launched a limited number of GPX Limited Edition model in commemoration of its win in 1994 awards. The most distinct feature of this limited edition car was its dandelion yellow paint scheme and “94–95 Japan Car of the Year” emblem on the outer surface of the C-pillar. The car came with a rear screen wiper and limited slip differential. Mitsubishi produced just 500 units of GPX Limited Edition.
In early 1997, Mitsubishi launched another limited edition called the Nakaya-Tune FTO of which only 300 units were produced. Akihiko Nakaya, a driver of FTO in the All-Japan Grand Touring Car Championship in 1998-99, tuned the car and hence named after him. Some of the distinctive features were a sports silencer, upgraded brake pads, carbon fiber lip spoiler and upgraded suspension with Ohlin’s shock absorbers.
August 1997–July 2001
All the models that appeared after August 1997 were regarded as the facelift models. The only visible difference was on the front bumper that received a larger air intake, deeper front splitter and restyled housings for the supplementary lights. To complement the side lights of the car, headlamps were also modified.
Another facelift model called the GP Version R was also introduced in Scotia White, Passion Red or Pyrenees Black exterior colors. The prominent features used in the vehicle were HID headlamps, blue (with white body color), black (with red body color) or red (with black body color) front seats, updated suspension, limited slip differential as well as a different rear spoiler in addition to the GPX specification. To keep the vehicle lightweight, some of the features were skipped, such as side skirts, front fog lights, climate control, electric folding mirrors and sound insulation.
Mitsubishi also introduced an experimental electric version of the FTO named the FTOEV. It was equipped with performance lithium-ion batteries. In December 1999, the FTOEV set a record by covering the distance of 2000 kilometers (1200 miles) in twenty-four hours time.