The Big Ask 4: The Carisma’s Stablemates

In our final instalment we look at the Carisma’s showroom companions in Mitsubishi’s dealerships.  What were they?

Face-lifted Mitsubishi Carisma: source
Face-lifted Mitsubishi Carisma: source

According to Car magazine’s GBU, all of them belonged in the Chump section. The Colt cost least, at just under £10,000. Another three thousand bought you a Lancer with one engine available. You’d need to offer roughly another one and a half thou more to drive off in the Galant 1.8 Si which had a 1.8 litre four, a 2.0 litre four, a 2.0 litre V6 and a 2.5 litre V6. The Sigma came as a saloon and an estate and the price of entry was nearly double that of the Galant: 30K in old money. For families Mitsubishi had a Space Star MPV for £14,000. The Space Wagon cost £15,799. Most successful might have been the Shogun SUV at £21,219. For some reason Mitsubishi also had a 155 mph sports car called the 3000 GT for £42,000. Car described this vehicle as a “waste of effort.”

1995 Mitsubishi Sigma: source
1995 Mitsubishi Sigma: source

Two years later the Carisma had displaced the Lancer, and cost £11,890. With a typical inability to compare like with like, Car though the Volvo S40 more satisfying even though it cost £3000 more than its relative.

So, in 1995 Mitsubishi had a range of eight cars, from city hatchback to sports GT and SUV. Today, they sell four cars in the UK: the Mirage, the ASX, the Shogun and the Outlander.

I had not thought about the Sigma for a long time until I came to write this. Here we find another contender for the Tagora award and which might very well have been an even better subject for today’s symposium.

Where does the Carisma fit in here? On reflection, it ought to have been a car to gain new customers and provide a steady stream of cash to use for investing in new products and new technology. Instead it lingered in the showrooms for nine years and repelled customers from Mitsubishi generally. The general lesson is that getting late to market is a disaster. And bad product planning can compound it: the Carisma is a clear example of both. These rather than the bland styling, were the real reason for the car’s dismal performance.

For some reason Renault-Nissan are paying $2.3 billion for Mitsubishi.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

8 thoughts on “The Big Ask 4: The Carisma’s Stablemates”

  1. “the real reason for the car´s dismal performance”

    Was it really that dismal? They built 350k in just under 10 years, which doesn’t seem so bad for a manufacturer with limited exposure. Speaking of which – I’ve said it before but I believe the number of dealerships was and still remains a key factor in the number of vehicles ultimately sold. And while Mitsubishi may have had reasonable coverage (as well as a semblance of reputation) in the UK and possibly Ireland, I’d be surprised if the same could be said across the whole of Europe.

    1. They’re not dire, but they had tailed off by the start of this century. On a par with the Fiat Multipla. But nothing like, say, a VW Bora. But both of these would have had better margins. I suppose they were chasing the same market that Korean cars used to establish a foothold.

    2. Some research puts 350,000 into perspective: the 1997 Vectra sold 384.000 units. in 1997 Ford sold 322,000 Mondeos; in 1997 VW sold 500,000 Golfs in Europe.
      Left-Lane supplied the figures. A succesful car might have taken a large part of the sales of weaker peers and a little from the bigger players. I would call success for a new entrant in 1995 about 50-70,000 units.
      Sam correctly points out the dealer network: chicken and egg, I guess. Good cars are needed to lure dealers into your network, and it takes a good network to sell the cars in volumes large enough to convince people the car is popular in its class.

  2. The Carisma facelift is almost Fiat like in its cack-handedness. It’s as though they finally wanted to iron out any chance of the Carisma not being mistaken for a £7,999.99 On-The-Road Proton.

  3. Richard, I too quite liked the look of the Sigma. Only ever saw a couple in the metal but there was more than a hint of Q car about it, something I also quite like.

    1. Wasn’t it a shade more visually interesting? The light and grille arrangement, the chrome, the size? Maybe that car is worth a further look. They sold a bit in Germany. The British ran a mile. How does it compare to an Omega? Is it worse than a Safrane?

    2. I would certainly prefer it to a Safrane. It has an understated aggression with it’s shark’s nose. I was never sure about those almost spats over the rear wheels of the Omega either. On balance I think I’d plump for the Mitsu.

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