CC Capsule: 1990 Mitsubishi Galant (E30) MX-4 – The Beta Evo

Gallantry may be a fading concept, but there are still some old-timey Galants about. Not nearly as many as equivalent Toyotas, Hondas or Nissans, though – this is the first one I’ve managed to find so far. Still, it seems the sixth generation (1987-92) Mitsubishi Galant had a good reputation in its day. The domestic market loved it (it was the boom times, so they liked a lot of things in those days), the American market was all over it as well, and the rest of the world was also keen on the idea.

And there was a lot to like. The 2-litre DOHC 4-cyl. Cyclone engine, as used on the higher-trim MX model featured here, was a very capable performer: 140hp was a pretty impressive amount of power for the times. And then, there was the fact that said power was sent to all four wheels via a five-speed manual, and that later models, such as our feature car, even got four-wheel steering.

That technological package proved quite potent on rally tracks, obviously. In many ways, the whole Mitsubishi mystique about the Lancer-based Evo was pioneered on the E30 Galant, leading some to dub this car “Evo Zero.” Given the high-tech nature of the beast, I think the term beta-testing might also apply here. But they switched it to the Lancer for a reason: all this great gear was a bit wasted on a car that looked like a JDM taxi.

As is usually the case with Mitsubishi, Galant number six was part of a well-though out plan to build on previous generations’ innovations. The preceding generation (top photo) had switched the layout to FWD, but kept the body in the low-slung origami vein of the RWD Sigma (bottom photo), which it coexisted with for the better part of the ‘80s.

Then came the dowdy E30, ditching the Sigma name along with its clean-cut lines in favour of a tall greenhouse that looked almost like a Chrysler K-car with a pituitary gland problem. OK, maybe not quite as bad as that, but it really depends on the angle of the photo.

The front end seemed to try and borrow from BMW (but didn’t quite manage it)… Yes, they put that face on other Mitsus, and it’s not the worst angle of the car, but it’s a bit too derivative. For its part, the rear reminds me of the Corolla for whatever reason, which is to say it’s as bland as a cheap Toyota. Of note while we’re here, the failed “MMC” rebranding exercise was still applied to this generation of Galants, at least in Japan.

The E30 also did away with the previous generations’ body variants, namely the RWD wagons and coupes. As well as the FWD Galant’s “pillared hardtop” sedan, in favour of a choice of a regular four-door saloon or a five-door hatchback. In Japan, those were badged as the Eterna, but they were just as Galant as the rest in other markets.

Inside, things are just as gray and plasticky as any other medium-sized car of the period. This one seems to have survived the past three decades very well, but Mitsubishis are not reputed to be as well put together as some of their JDM rivals, so this may be a (welcome) exception to the rule.

If you happen to share my distaste for this Galant’s looks, the best option is probably to drive it. That’s the best way not to have to look at it, and everyone seems to agree that they’re lots of fun on a twisty mountain road. The question would be how reliable all this technological wizardry, analog though it (mostly) is, might be now that it’s over 30 years old.


Related post:


Curbside Classic: Dodge 2000 GTX – The Galant Canadian, by David Saunders