It took 11 years for Mitsubishi to build up the courage to finally bring the Lancer Evolution to the U.S. in 2003. But back in 1989, Mitsubishi built a very Evo-like sedan—a turbocharged, all-wheel-drive, rally-bred performer—and immediately brought it to the U.S. market. It was the Galant VR-4, the car Mitsubishi took rallying years before the Lancer Evolution's 1992 debut.
MotorWeek just posted its 1989 video review of the original Mitsubishi rally sedan . The Galant VR-4 was expensive, at $21,000, but for that you got a 2.0-liter turbocharged four that made 195 horsepower and, of course, all-wheel-drive.
The 50/50 front-rear torque split provided great traction and quick acceleration. Four-wheel-steering sharpens up turn-in significantly, but only functions above 31 mph.
Like other high-tech, all-wheel-drive Mitsubishi performance cars, the Galant VR-4 remained a bit obscure in America. Clearly, U.S. consumers didn't understand the appeal of a rally-inspired car you could haul your family around in. That trend took more than a decade to take hold in America.