Hard Believer: Mitsubishi Galant (2007)
First of all, let me say that I personally drive a 1991 Mitsubishi Galant GTi, Sunbeam Silver Iridium, all original and completely stock. And anyone who knows me also knows my deep emotional attachment to her. The GTi’s simple formula of a powerful engine mated to a relatively light-weight body has produced a revered car-dom icon. At the same time, you can’t turn a blind eye to the Galant’s demise from being the plum of the sports sedan world into an also-ran luxo-barge (culminating in the crude GT-A in 2004). Long-time fans soon thought that the end was near—that Mitsubishi was abandoning the Galant in favor of Lancers and Adventures.
This notion was obliterated in style with the arrival of the all-new, all-tech Galant 240M. From the get-go, the new Galant faced a challenging hurdle: the arrival of previously unknown brands into the executive car arena like the Mazda6 and the Hyundai Sonata. At the same time, it still had to square off versus its perennial rivals, the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. This challenge posed a difficult question on the Galant’s engineering and styling. Long time fans such as myself, are looking for something that’s fun to drive; while the rest of the populace want something comfortable and luxurious. So Mitsubishi thought, why not combine both? The new Galant looks instantly sporty and distinctive with its large chrome grille and rising window line. A closer inspection reveals the shocking fact that this is the largest Galant ever—measuring close to 4.9 meters from bumper to bumper.
Inside, the Galant 240M is spacious (best in class) and filled with top-notch materials with nice, tactile switchgear. The interior’s gloomy given the black-on-black motif (even the wood grain features a dark accent), but does lend it a very Germanic feel. Plus, it’s probably easier to maintain than the usual tan/beige interior. Control ergonomics are excellent with all the switches, gear selector and hand brake falling into the right place. The 10-way power driver’s seat (even the lumbar support’s electronically adjustable) allows incremental adjustments for that perfect driving position even if the 240M lacks telescopic adjustment on the steering wheel. The gauges, which are illuminated with a shocking blue hue are easy to read and don’t wash out in direct sunlight.
Perhaps the only thing to gripe about the new Galant’s cockpit is its busy-looking center console, which is pretty to look at, but is hard to master. The small buttons for the A/C and audio system have been jammed close together that mis-pressed buttons surely be part of the ownership experience. Another thing that needs improvement is the large dot-matrix display for the audio/clock function. Like the gauges it glows blue, but unlike the gauges it feels as if it has been nicked from a Chinese digital weighing scale. A more sophisticated display such as an Active LCD screen should be a must for such an expensive car.
On the road, the Galant 240M exhibits very un-Galant like qualities of comfort and refinement. It absolutely absorbs everything that’s thrown at it—potholes, uneven surfaces, balking street vendors. The 240M becomes your personal space, cocooning you away from Manila’s noisy and rough environment. In terms of Noise, Harshness and Vibration (NVH) isolation, this car tops its class. The 2.4-liter inline-4 may not look impressive on paper, but it can rocket the 240M with sheer ferocity (in a whisper-quiet manner) that you’d begin to swear you’re in a 3.0-liter V6 save maybe for the aural experience. 100 km/h comes in no time, and this road-going Shikanzen will push north of 180 km/h if you desire. The engine’s mated to a 4-speed auto box with a manual override. Again, though the number of gears may look like a deficit, it’s well suited to the Galant’s engine characteristics.
In city traffic, the long hood and large overhangs and detrimental to the Galant’s overall sportiness (and ease of parking), but as you get used to the 240M, travel faster or both; it feels surprisingly nimble and responsive. The turning radius is tight, assuring you that the suspension people have gotten their homework right. The all-around independent suspension set-up keeps the Galant highly stable and well-balanced at any speed. Do expect some degree of body roll, but it’s not discontenting as to cause any sort of alarm or panic.
At the end of the day, I can’t help but think that the new Mitsubishi Galant 240M is a great car. It totally took me by surprise given its bigger heft. But it makes a great addition to the executive car segment thanks to its excellent mix of performance, comfort and of course, value for money. The arrival of the new Galant may mark the end of the compact Galant sports sedan of yesterday. But size aside, this new one keeps the performance baton alive. With its enviable combination of controlled aggression and uncompromising comfort, the 240M is one serious car that’s definitely deserving of the Galant name.
By Ulysses Ang | Photos by Ulysses Ang