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The History of Mitsubishi's Six HSR Concepts (1987-1997)

The Mitsubishi HSR (Highly Sophisticated-transport Research) wasn't just a singular concept car; it was a futuristic journey spanning six iterations across a decade. Unveiled biannually at the Tokyo Motor Show from 1987 to 1997, each HSR prototype served as a glimpse into the evolving technologies and design philosophies that Mitsubishi envisioned for the future of motoring. Join us as we delve into the unique features and lasting impact of each groundbreaking concept.


1987 Mitsubishi HSR: Pioneering Electronic Integration

The inaugural 1987 Mitsubishi HSR I marked a significant leap forward in automotive electronics. Equipped with a powerful 2.0-liter turbocharged engine generating 295 horsepower, it prioritized both exhilarating performance and sophisticated control capabilities. Its integrated electronic system offered automatic adjustments to the drive train, suspension, steering, and brakes based on driving conditions and weather, paving the way for future advancements in driver assistance technologies.


1989 Mitsubishi HSR-II: Embracing Aerodynamics and Organic Design

Taking inspiration from the sleek forms of dolphins, the HSR-II shifted its focus towards active aerodynamics. Innovative movable fins and spoilers dynamically adapted to varying speeds and driving conditions, achieving drag coefficients ranging from an impressive 0.2 to 0.40. This groundbreaking research directly influenced the design of the production Mitsubishi GTO sports car, demonstrating the practical application of futuristic concepts.


1991 Mitsubishi HSR-III: Power and Efficiency with the Compact V6

Downsizing without compromising performance, the HSR-III showcased the world's smallest mass-produced V6 engine at the time. This 1.6-liter unit delivered 140 horsepower, highlighting Mitsubishi's commitment to developing efficient yet powerful engines. The HSR-III's success served as a precursor to the widespread adoption of smaller V6 engines in future passenger cars, marking a shift towards more sustainable and fuel-efficient vehicles.


1993 Mitsubishi HSR-IV: Intelligent Driving and Four-Wheel Sophistication

The HSR-IV continued the pursuit of both performance and intelligence. The upgraded 1.6-liter V6 now produced 180 horsepower and was paired with a robust 4WD system and all-wheel anti-lock brakes, ensuring confident handling in diverse conditions. However, the true highlight was the advanced computerized system that analyzed driver behavior and road conditions in real-time, automatically adjusting wheel alignment and other parameters for optimal performance and safety. This concept laid the groundwork for technologies like adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning, now commonplace in modern vehicles.


1995 Mitsubishi HSR-V: Introducing GDI Technology and Open-Air Fun

The HSR-V marked a turning point with the debut of Mitsubishi's revolutionary Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) technology. This innovative system promised improved fuel efficiency and power output, laying the foundation for future engine development across the industry. But the HSR-V wasn't just about technical prowess; it also offered open-air exhilaration in the form of a stylish targa top. This combination of cutting-edge technology and enjoyable driving experience showcased Mitsubishi's vision for the future of sporty yet efficient vehicles.


1997 Mitsubishi HSR-VI: Automated Driving and Refined Performance

The final iteration of the HSR series, HSR-VI, culminated years of research and development. The powerful 2.4-liter GDI engine delivered impressive performance, while advanced features like four-wheel steering, active yaw control, and traction control provided exceptional handling and stability. However, the most significant leap was the introduction of two distinct driving modes: Driver Operated and Automated Driving. This groundbreaking concept hinted at the future of autonomous vehicles, showcasing Mitsubishi's forward-thinking approach to automotive innovation.


A Legacy of Visionary Prototypes:

While none of the HSR concepts directly transitioned into production models, their influence on Mitsubishi's subsequent vehicles is undeniable. Technologies like four-wheel steering, active suspension, and GDI engines found their way into various Mitsubishi cars, demonstrating the HSR's role as a springboard for real-world advancements. Beyond specific technologies, the HSR series captured the spirit of automotive futurism during a pivotal era. Their bold designs and forward-thinking concepts continue to inspire car enthusiasts and designers alike, serving as a testament to Mitsubishi's pioneering spirit and commitment to pushing the boundaries of automotive development.

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