Detroit Preview: Mitsubishi to unleash Concept-RA

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click above image to view high-res gallery of the Mitsubishi Concept-RA

Performance enthusiasts have witnessed the devolution of the Mitsubishi Eclipse from the turbocharged, all-wheel-drive thrill ride it once was to the V6-powered, front-wheel-drive highway cruiser it is today. Perhaps the Concept-RA that Mitsubishi will unveil at the 2008 Detroit Auto Show in January heralds a return to that original Eclipse. The concept certainly has the look of those first-gen cars, with a low slung body and perfectly arching roof line. The rear even has a bit of Boxster to it. The fender flares and what we hope are functional extraction vents give purpose to the design, which is backed up by the use of lightweight materials and an eco-friendly though potent powerplant.

The Concept-RA is built on an aluminum space frame and most of its body panels, including the hood and fenders, are made from a recyclable plastic resin that’s impact resistant. That brings the weight down so that the 2.2L four-cylinder turbodiesel doesn’t have to work as hard to make the car go. The diesel features Mitsu’s MIVEC valve timing technology, as well as direct injection and piezoelectric injectors. It requires no urea injection to meet our strict emissions standards for diesels, instead relying on a smorgasbord of traps, filters and catalytic converters. Despite its formidable green cred, the 2.2L mill produces just over 200 HP and 310 ft-lbs. of torque. Like the best Eclipses of old, it sends power to all four wheels, though through a more modern Twin Clutch SST transmission. Mitsubishi’s Super All Wheel Control (S-AWC) also keeps the car planted by coordinating the efforts of a variety of systems, including the brakes, stability control, steering and damping.

The Concept-RA should to be one of the most exciting concepts in Detroit this year, not just because it looks sharp, but also because Mitsubishi took the time to fit it with a workable drivetrain and cutting edge powerplant that could make it to market. As for whether or not the Concept-RA has any official ties to the first-generation Eclipse, that was our own wishful thinking… but you can’t deny the resemblance.

[Source: Mitsubishi]

Gallery: Mitsubishi Concept-RA

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