Is Mitsubishi the Last Quirky Car Company?

The Diamond Star brand has been suffering as of late. Boring cars. Ho-hum marketing. A huge fuel economy scandal dating back to the early 1990s. Mitsubishi is now frequently in the news and speculation as to its fate is rampant in the blogospheres. Nissan has purchased a controlling stake in the company at fire sale rates. That worries me.

Why? Because in my humble opinion, Nissan stinks. On top of that, they’re owned by Renault, the equally crummy French car company. The bargain purchase of Mitsu has granted them market penetration in Southeast Asia, as well as more R&D resources. However, this move may kill off one of the last “quirky” car companies¬†around if we’re not to include North Korea’s Pyeonghwa Motors.

I may be a bit biased here¬†since I’m a Mitsubishi owner myself. Behold:

Mitsubishi Mirage

I bought this little bastard a few months ago. Three cylinders, 76 horses, manual transmission. Most other car companies would laugh in your face if you were to suggest this car to anyone. Hell, I would have laughed too. It also looks like the nameless generic car you see in car insurance commercials. In the few months I’ve had this car, however, I’ve fallen more and more in love with it. It’s a car that looks and drives like it has something to prove, and it does. It’s here to prove that Mitsubishi, despite their hardships and sparse lineup here in the States, can still crank out an efficient, well-thought-out car. I’ll totally agree, it’s a fucking strange car. The engine compartment wasn’t painted to save costs, so below the hood is a mess of overspray and gray primer.

I’ll totally agree, it’s a fucking strange car. The engine compartment wasn’t painted to save costs, so below the hood is a mess of overspray and gray primer. The storage compartment cover is attached to the back hatch by one lonely piece of string. Bluetooth streaming only works on the front two of the four speakers. The tires are 14 inches. It’s strange as hell. Mitsubishi probably knows full-well how odd this little car is. They’re no stranger to strange cars. For examples, we have the funky Mighty Max/Dodge Ram 50 pickup, the legendary Starion and GT3000, the pseudo-luxury Diamante, et cetera.

The Nissan buyout could put Mitsubishi’s quirky side at risk. I certainly hope not, since I think that the Diamond Star still has some innovation left in it with the Outlander PHEV and possible other forays in the EV market to supplement their extremely nutso i-MiEV. Here’s to hoping we get to see it all.