The Mitsubishi FTO, is a front engined, front-wheel drive coupe produced by Mitsubishi Motors between 1994 and 2000. It was originally planned to be exclusively for the Japanese domestic market, although its popularity as a grey market import to the United Kingdom, Ireland, and New Zealand led to eventual limited distribution through Mitsubishi's official dealers in those countries. Upon its debut it won the Car of the Year Japan award for 1994–95, awarded on December 2, 1994.
FTO stands for "Fresh Touring Origination". The name recalls the Galant FTO coupé of 1971, one of the company's first sports cars.
The only body style was a 2-door coupé, and all FTOs were front wheel drive. Either a straight-4 or a transversely mounted V6 engine was available, mated to either a 5-speed manual or INVECS-II semi-automatic transmission. Earlier models had a four-speed version, whilst the post-facelift versions had a five-speed.
October 1994–August 1997
In commemoration of its win at the Car of the Year Japan awards in 1994, Mitsubishi introduced a limited production of the GPX Limited Edition model. It can be indentified by its dandelion yellow paint scheme and "'94–95 Japan Car of the Year" emblems on the outer surface of the car's C-pillar. It also has a rear screen wiper and limited slip differential as standard. Less than 500 of these are believed to have been produced.
The Nakaya-Tune FTO was a limited edition introduced in early 1997, and only 300 cars were sold. The car was tuned by Akihiko Nakaya, driver of an FTO in the All-Japan Grand Touring Car Championship in 1998–1999. The main differences over the standard model are a sports silencer, uprated brake pads, carbon fibre lip spoiler, and uprated suspension with Öhlins shock absorbers.
August 1997–July 2001
Cars built after August 1997 are regarded as facelift models, although the only exterior change was to the front bumper, which gained a larger air intake, deeper front splitter and restyled housings for the supplementary lights.
The facelift also brought the GP Version R. This model featured HID headlamps, blue or red front seats, uprated suspension, limited slip differential,and a different rear spoiler in addition to the GPX specification. As this model was to be light weight, items such as side skirts, front fog lights, climate control, electric folding mirrors and sound insulation were left out.
An electric version, the FTO-EV, was produced by Mitsubishi Motors in 1998 as an experimental vehicle. The car utilised high-performance lithium ion battery power and set a multiple-charge 24-hour distance world record.
(Sources: Fact & Figures 2000, Fact & Figures 2005, Mitsubishi Motors website)