Mitsubishi Starion, a 2-door, 4-seat sports car manufactured and sold by Mitsubishi Motors Corporation. It remained in production from 1982 to 1990 and was powered by a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine featuring rear-wheel drive platform. In North America, the Starion was sold as the Conquest under the brand names of Chrysler, Dodge and Plymouth. The production of both the Starion and the Conquest was ceased in 1989. Starion was regarded as the inventor of the Japanese turbocharged performance genre as it came just before the earlier turbocharged designs like the Porsche 930 (1975), Saab 99 (1978) and the Mitsubishi Lancer EX 2000 Turbo (1980).
According to Mitsubishi, the name ‘Starion’ is derived from ‘Star of Orion’, while an urban myth suggests that it was actually stallion which was mistakenly taken as Starion because of ‘Engrish’ mistranslation. However, this myth seems to be wrong as it based on the fact that there was no exact Japanese translation for ‘double l’ and we have already seen it in the form of Toyota Corolla.
1982 was the period when Japanese Grand Tourer (GT) sports cars were gaining in some popularity and that particular time the Starion made its debut. The Starion was an attempt from Mitsubishi to produce a turbocharged vehicle to compete with other models.
Different brand names were used for marketing Starion. For instance, it was sold under Mitsubishi as Starion in United States, while it was sold as Conquest under Chrysler and Plymouth. Colt Starion was the name used in United Kingdom.
Basically, two body styles were produced for Starion, i.e. a narrowbody and a widebody commonly called ‘Flatty’ and ‘Fatty’. The narrowbody style was remained in production until 1985 in the United States. The widebody style was further split into two ranges, i.e. a non-intercooled lower horsepower featuring narrow body style and a top-end intercooled widebody.
In certain markets, the widebody vehicles were sold as Starion ESI-r or Conquest TSI. However, the narrowbody cars were sold as Starion or Conquest in many markets. Mechanically, both the narrowbody and widebody cars were identical.
Traditionally, Starion came with front-mounted engine featuring a rear-wheel drive platform. Majority of the Starion had limited slip differential and anti-lock brakes as standard. The chassis of the Starion is taken from the previous high-performance Mitsubishi Sapporo or Mitsubishi Galant Lambda sports coupe. The suspension of Starion was based on Macpherson struts and swaybars.
Different markets received different engines. For instance, the American Starion came with a larger SOHC Astron G54B 2.6-L engine, while certain other markets offered SOHC 2.0-L Sirius 4G63 engine, subsequently featured in DOHC form in Mitsubishi sport compacts such as the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution later on. Both the engines produced almost the same power, though the 2.6-L version was a hint better in torque and the 2.0-L possessed a higher redline. Computer controlled fuel injection and turbocharging was standard on both versions. The European models also received a 2.6-L engine in 1987 similar to GSR-VR for Japan.
Based on different factors, such as turbocharger, presence of an intercooler and valve heads (8- or 12-valve), the horsepower ranged from 150-197 hp (112-147 kW; 152-200 PS). The Starion EX marketed in New Zealand regarded as the last petrol based unit featuring 8-valve, intercooler and an impressive output of 225 hp (168 kW).
For Japanese market, the naturally-aspirated version called the GX was also built which was discontinued in 1983 because of poor sales. The GX lacked some contemporary features such as power windows, air conditioning, independent suspension, fuel-injection and power assisting steering that resulted in its low sales.
The car featured 2+2 seating arrangement but the rear seats were not as comfortable for adult passengers. It also featured adjustable front seats for lumbar, angle, knee support positions as well as variable-angle side-braces.
In Starion, the seatbelts were positioned in the doors for the driver and front passenger, which was quite unusual at that time. From 1987 onward, the American version of Starion received electrically operated seatbelts.
Although, majority of the markets received Starion with 5-speed manual transmission, there were some markets that received automatic transmission.
Starion was a step above from the Mazda RX-7 and Nissan 300ZX when it was launched. It was launched with angular design and up-to-date aerodynamics and drag co-efficient of 0.32.