The "Starion" name is claimed to be a contraction of "Star of Orion." It was also widely believed that the Japanese intended the name to be "Stallion", but due to lack of "l" in Japanese, the name was spelled with "r" instead.
The Starion's appearance in 1982 occurred during a period in which a number of Japanese Grand Tourer (GT) sports cars were increasing in popularity. The Starion's turbocharged four-cylinder engine enabled it to be very competitive.
During production, the Starion was produced in both a narrowbody and widebody, in later years ('86.5-89). The design proved durable and few changes were made between models, with only simple improvements demarking the change from one model to the next. In the United States market, there was only one major change when the car was upgraded to the ESI-r (Conquest TSi) model; this model features an intercooler and five-bolt wheels, replacing the four-bolt wheels it had inherited from the rear wheel drive Mitsubishi Galant Lambda.
At the time, Mitsubishi opted for the Mitsubishi Astron engine with a single-camshaft head (SOHC) rather than the dual cam head, and also for a throttle-body fuel injection setup which mixed the fuel with the air prior to entering the plenum chamber.
Production ceased entirely by 1990, and its successor, the GTO was fitted with the mechanicals of the recently demonstrated Mitsubishi HSX Sports Coupe concept vehicle.
Many of the performance features of the Starion were integrated into later vehicles and can be found in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, in the Mitsubishi Galant VR-4, and the Mitsubishi Eclipse.
The Starion used a traditional front-mounted engine with rear-wheel drive layout, which most sports cars use. Many came with a limited slip differential and anti-lock brakes (single channel, rear wheels only) as standard features. The entire chassis was derived from the previous high performance variant of the Mitsubishi Sapporo or Mitsubishi Galant Lambda sports coupe, with a MacPherson strut suspension and swaybars that were fitted to front and rear.