Though the Perdana would later gain a V6 engine and a grille design inspired by Alfa Romeo, we’re not going to focus on Proton’s flagship model of the nineties. Instead, we want to pay attention to the base model of the Perdana, the Mitsubishi Eterna and its long-forgotten coupe twin, the Emeraude.
It’s a hardtop life
The Japanese Bubble Era of the eighties produced numerous fantastic cars that were only conceived for that period. Satiating the desires of Japanese salarymen with lots of yen in their pockets, the demand for cool wheels had exploded.
These Japanese yuppies wanted a car that looked sporty but with some emphasis of luxury. More importantly, they wanted something that they can afford, so Japanese carmakers would introduce hardtop sedan variants to buyers.
Companies like Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, and Honda flooded the market with premium hardtop sedans to satisfy these customers. Though they weren't exactly coupes per se, they were marketed as such to appeal to the young salarymen.
Mitsubishi also joined in with the Eterna. It was initially sold as a variant of the Galant when it was launched in 1978 before dropping the name entirely with the replacement in 1980. Though the Eterna came with a hardtop, it only lasted for one generation between 1983 and 1988.
Seeing its rivals’ success with their hardtop models, Mitsubishi sought to bring it back to the line-up in 1992. With that, Mitsubishi had three variations of the seventh-generation Galant on sale in Japan – the standard Galant, the Eterna, and the Emeraude.
The standard Galant was offered in overseas markets while the Eterna and Emeraude remained exclusive only for Japan.
The Emeraude resembled the Eterna in terms of design with its ovoid shape but it was sportier with its six-headlight arrangement, rear spoiler, and pillarless doors.
The Emeraude came with a choice of three engines:
1.8-litre SOHC inline-4 4G93 (117 PS/166 Nm)
1.8-litre SOHC V6 6A11 (133 PS/167 Nm)
2.0-litre DOHC MIVEC V6 6A12 (179 PS/191 Nm)
Only the base 4G93 variant came with a 5-speed manual transmission, the other powerplants are supplied with a 4-speed automatic transmission. The Emeraude was available with either front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, much like its twin brothers.
The Emeraude has some luxury options that were advanced for its time, including automatic climate controls, a television for front and rear passengers, a sat-nav, a surround sound system, and cruise control. Yet, it became a flop for the Three Diamonds.
By the nineties, hardtop sedans weren’t as appealing to buyers and the design slowly became phased out. Then there’s also the ensuing Lost Decade as Japan’s economy started to burst. This forced the Japanese salarymen to downsize from a hardtop sedan to something smaller.
Mitsubishi’s three variations of the Galant were also confusing buyers. Eventually, Mitsubishi killed off the Emeraude after one generation and ended the Eterna nameplate in 1996.
The Galant moved on solo to the eighth generation which became a front-end conversion favourite among Perdana tuners.
Much like the Perodua Alza, the original Proton Perdana became very successful in Malaysia while the original base model flopped in Japan. The Perdana continued production far longer than the Eterna with around 80,000 units built between 1995 and 2010.
Though many fans of the Perdana knew about the Eterna, not many would remember the Emeraude. It is a truly forgotten Mitsubishi model and one that could be difficult to replicate with the design of the pillarless doors.