The future is here; Computer-Controlled Suspension.
Well, it might have looked like some kind of a brick, but technologically it was very impressive in 1984. This article is also from R&T’s 1984 December issue:
I like this car a lot. Despite it being uncompetitive on paper, it just looks to me like the company told their engineers to make the best car they could. The company would then figure out how to sell it.
I disagree with the R/T author, the styling of this car could be nothing but Japanese, in fact nothing but Mitsubishi. The last USA Galant, the 04-12 model looks strikingly similar. The standard engine was even a more advanced version of the same engine.
All the electronic gee gaws on the very conventional suspension design reflect the time where electronics really were thought to be the answer to get to the next level of performance. Did this car get to that next level, of course not. The way traction control becomes stability control which eventually becomes self driving cars show’s that Mitsubishi was just early, not wrong.
The article falls down where it does not criticize the car for being so loud at 70 mph, or to getting such poor skidpad numbers despite having 60 series tires, quite aggressive for 84. These were issues Mitsu needed to work on and mentioning it would have been a help.
Interesting that the car had a 4sp auto in 1984. 70’s Colts had a lite duty torqueflite auto. Chrysler lacked a front drive 4 speed pre ultradive. Wonder whose transmission this car is using.
I saw one of these outside Houston this past weekend. It was in a fairly upper-middle class neighborhood where most cars are late model SUVs or quasi-premium sedans. I was first impressed with seeing it at all, then with the great condition it was in for its age, and finally, for the apparent ‘opulence’ of its interior. I agree, Mitsubishi was not wrong just early in a few ways. They could have gone on to compete with Acura and the lesser Lexuses (Lexi?) and Infinities.
The early Mitsubishis were actually impressive cars in certain respects. The feature content was unmatched at their price point, the quality of materials was excellent, and their styling, while subjective, was at least appealing and certainly anything but off-putting. Having driven an ’82 Dodge (Mitsubishi) Challenger and an ’85 Plymouth Conquest (yes the early Starion derived Conquest was marketed as a Plymouth), I really thought at the time that Mitsubishi was going to take off and become a Toyota rival in the US. Somehow by the mid ’90’s their model lineup consisted of “Squint, and you’ll think it’s a Toyota/Nissan”. Nothing set them apart by 2000, and with Acura, Infiniti and Lexus firmly planted in the picture by then it wouldn’t have mattered if the fit and finish and feature content was a cut above anyway. It’s been a little sad to see the brand fall to the also-ran status that it has over the past 2 decades.
Count me in as another big fan of these cars. Love the styling, love the technology. I never knew until this article just how advanced that suspension was–the part where it lowers the nose an inch at speed to improve wind resistance was impressive in 1993 when Lincoln borrowed the idea for the Mark VIII (though the entire car dropped, not just the nose). Mitsu beat them to it by almost 10 years!
I’ve heard that Mitsubishi’s dealer network in the 80’s was not well established in the hearltand or outside larger cities on the East Coast. Perhaps that’s a reason for this car’s lack of resounding success?
Give me a later model with the V6 and the composite lamps, and I’d be a happy camper.
Even in Japan, Mitsubishi is considered to be at the very least a “tier 2” car company. When I was in Japan in the 80s, I didn’t see that many Mitsubishi cars or dealerships and the dealerships I did see were quite small, looking like they had very little to offer. I did see a few Delica minivans and several …..Minicas (?).
For whatever reason, Mitsubishi is/was best known for it’s trucks of all sizes and mini-cars.
And it may be coincidental, but in most countries where Mitsubishi entered the market by way of a locally owned distribution network….or in the U.S. as a “captive import” they never seemed to recover from the separation from their “host”.
Where Mitsubishi is pretty strong, marketwise, is Southeast Asia. They may be the number 2 producer in Thailand (which is the biggest motor vehicle manufacturer in ASEAN).
Haven’t seen one of these in a long time.
In Australia we got these in wide-body form as the Mitsubishi Magna. They were extremely popular until the fragility of the automatic became known. Mitsubishi never seemed to recover from that.
We bought one in ’89. Interestingly it turned out to be the first fuel-injected manual the dealership had got in, and they were most impressed how it went. The car felt much more refined than equivalent Fords and Toyotas, and lasted us eleven years and 230,000km, when we replaced it with the ’00 Diamante I’m driving now.
These are a rare sight these days. And Mitsubishi is just a shadow of its former self, reduced to being an SUV and truck company that still beats out the occasional car.
We have the FWD Galants, Sigmas and the Aussie Magna version though they are very rare, they survived ok in manual providing the block didnt crack and you didnt buy an 84 that the roof pillars rusted out on, they werent a bad drive but with all the known faults resale value was nil.
Always liked our wagons. Smart shape.
Mum had a manual wagon, it was a good car. The auto version was complete shite though. Was it the same crap box that Chryslers in the U.S used?
I had a 5 speed sedan and the reason I sold it was the gearbox.
Nothing wrong, just got tired of changing gears in stop n go traffic after being at work all day.
It was a very solid well built car, felt much more substantial than the Toyota’s and Nissans of the day.
We had a curious failure of the shift mechanism in ours at about 150,000 km. You’d go to take off in first but the gearbox would be in third – somehow the 1-2 plane of the shifter didn’t communicate with first or second gears in the gearbox. The old EFI Astron II was a good motor for us, but it sure didn’t have the torque to run a close-ratio three speed with one of ’em being overdrive! I twigged almost immediately what had happened, but we were holidaying in the in the Dandenong Ranges at the time with two children – the prolonged holiday was nice, but the new clutch and shifter repairs weren’t cheap.
Boy, do I miss velour seats like the one this Galant has. Wish they’d bring it back. Everything is either chintzy cloth or leather – you can even get leather interiors on economy cars…
And given the burlap-like qualities of today’s “cloth” interiors (if you can call that woven vinyl stuff cloth) springing for leather becomes a very attractive option.
…and it’s usually not even real leather anymore. Most of it is obviously vinyl but evidently most consumers are now so used to it they can’t tell the difference.
And yeah, today’s cloth can be awful. The cloth seats in my F-150 do feel like burlap, with the added bonus of being easily stained by plain water.
I went through a string of used Mitsus in the 1990s – ’88 Colt wagon, ’89 Colt Vista and ’90 Sigma. The Colt was simple and reliable. The Vista was very versatile with all the possible interior combinations, and the Sigma was the most luxurious Japanese car I had ever seen up to that point, the Lexus wasn’t even close. Unfortunately, both the Vista and the Sigma had serious mechanical issues, which really soured me on Mitsubishi. The Vista’s engine grenaded, and the Sigma required constant replacement of various expensive and hard to find parts. I absolutely loved the design, I was a real Mitsu fan for a while, but ultimately I just couldn’t justify the expense. But with the next generation of models, the design wasn’t there anymore either, and Mitsubishi became just an also-ran. The quality was there, the content level was amazing, they just needed to work on the reliability instead of trying to go mainstream and de-contenting like Toyota did.
Bastard offspring of an Audi 5000 and a Toyota Camry. Good genes, certainly.
“an electric sliding glass sunroof with an inner sunshade (great idea)”
Funny to think how this type of sunroof (or moonroof as they’re commonly called now) is available in just about every type of car. I remember the days of the solid, non-glass sunroofs, which are more or less obsolete now.
That makes me wonder, is a metal sunroof still offered by anyone? The last one I can think of is the 1996 Honda Prelude, but there is probably something newer.
My 2002 911 has metal.
Mitsubishis of the 80’s had the most “Euro” styling of the Japanese makers, in my opinion. The switches clustered on satellite binnacles on either side of the steering column are reminiscent of the Citroen CX/GSA instrument cluster. It would have been interesting to operate the turn signal paddle that flips up and down. The JDM and Euro versions looked markedly different and sleeker than the chrome-laden US version with quad sealed-beam headlights.
The Aussie Magnas had a much more conventional control layout, with the digital dash and turn signal paddle being reserved for the upmarket Elite model.
I got to drive one of these when my daughter’s friend needed someone to drive the one she’d bought out home to their farm. It was night, and the digital dash didn’t work. It was fun figuring out the different controls with no interior lighting!
Wife and I bought an ’86 version of the Galant new, equipped exactly as this test vehicle was, with the ESC suspension, moonroof, etc. it was a wonderful little car. Would have kept it longer but for our 2-person family getting larger.
I drove the V6 model of one of these as a loaner for a few weeks in the late 90’s/ early 2000’s. Was a very nice car, very comfortable and had really good dark blue plush velour upholstery, about the nicest I’ve ever experienced. I echo Say What’s sentiments, I’d seriously consider a new car with upholstery like this
Me and my dad were car hunting together, in 1986 or 1987, and it was two.potentials left. This and the toyota camry. The Mitsubishi was far nicer equipped at the same price point, vs a totally stripper camry.
Ours was a 2.0 four, 100 or so hp, 5 speed manual, 0-60 mph in 10.8 seconds. Not slow at all as the article.describes. Extremely comfy, perfect highway cruiser.
Ours was.an upgraded “winner” equipment level, with exrra sound insulation etc. Probably the quietest car i have driven to a this day. Up to.150 kmh, it was VERY quiet.
Not at all impressed by the handling though. Front heavy boat would be the best description. At about 180 000 km, and 10 years, lots of smaller things, and interior bits started falling apart. At the time, I had inherited it from my dad, i sold it for quite a good amount, about 1/4 of new price.
But I agree, the seats were awsume. Only car ive had that would tilt headrests forward to give you an actual headrest on long trips. To me, most headrests are too far back, so essentially unusable.
We did many long cross.country trips.with this vehicle, and it excelled at that. Auto heating control worked great too.
The tested Galant may have been slow at 14.3 0-60.
But you gotta be impressed by the top speed of 163 MPH @ 6000 RPM!
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