The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2007 Mitsubishi Galant Ralliant Review

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2007 Mitsubishi Galant Ralliart

SEE ALSO: Compare All Mitsubishi Models - Mitsubishi Buyer's Guide™

A Stealthy Hot Shot
By Steve Purdy
Detroit Bureau

Mitsubishi’s new Galant looks rather plain at first blush. This mid-size four-door sedan is just about the same size as Camry, Altima and dozens of other family sedans. But there’s something intriguing about this front-wheel drive Galant - as if it has something up its sleeve.

The one in our driveway this week is the dark red Ralliart version. Ralliart is Mitsubishi’s racing department and this Galant, while not a racer in any sense, is a higher-performance family sedan. Those who follow the World Rally Championship, or rally racing as they call it elsewhere, will know Mitsubishi’s winning reputation. Mitsu has won the treacherous Dakar Rally more than anyone. Performance, of course, is not just about straight-line speed, or zero to 60-mph times or banging through the sands of North Africa. In the broadest sense it’s about how well the car does its assigned job. We’ll have more to say on that issue later in this review.

Styling, while subtle, is pretty cool, if you ask me. Mitsubishi calls it “geo-mechanical styling.” Sounds like marketing obfuscation to me. They explain that it looks like it’s “ready to go anywhere.” Well, certainly not off-road, and maybe not formal enough for the opera. It has a look of kinship to the new Sebring and Avenger sedans, sort of a Chrysler family resemblance. Taillights are incorporated into the modest rear spoiler. The flank is smooth and shapely at the same time. Overall, it has an understated, stealthy look, like some of the muscle cars of the past, plain but with a hint of aggression. Small colored slashes that constitute the Ralliart’s logo are subtly placed around the car.

Speaking of thrust, the honest folks at Mitsubishi claim a zero-to-60 time of less than 7 seconds. That’s pretty darned fast. Behind that element of performance is a new, high-feature 3.8-liter V6 making 258 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. Now, that’s not a huge number but it pulls this car down the road nicely. By high-feature we mean it has such modern technology as electronically controlled variable valve timing, lots of valves, aluminum heads and multi-point fuel injection. This hot engine is mated to a sturdy, 5-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode. Unlike some of the competing hot sedans, like Altima SE-R and Acura TL, this Galant Ralliart cannot be had with a stick transmission. Bummer.

Throttle response is quick and gratifying. Just a touch of the go-pedal and we’re going quickly. On-center feel with the speed-sensitive power steering is excellent as well. The neat small, leather, stitched-like-a-baseball shift knob feels gratifying to hold. Mitsubishi has gotten the tactile elements of the driving experience right. I was finding it great fun to flick the steering wheel back and forth feeling it center itself decisively until my pretty blonde made me quit.

The Ralliart performance package includes the hot engine described above, 18-inch wheels shod with 235/45-series Eagle RS-A tires, sport-tuned suspension, perforated leather seats with red stitching and red subdural tint, premium sound system, sporty body cladding and trim, vented front disc brakes, heavier stabilizer bars, and higher rate springs and dampers.

As we would expect, the ride is a bit stiffer than the usual mom-and-pop sedan with a performance package. Our week with the car included lots of miles and that stiffer suspension was only annoying on a couple of brief occasions when traversing particularly busted up roads. My passengers (my pretty blonde and her Pop) didn’t notice anything unusual. My sister-in-law noticed it right away on her first ride in the back seat. If a good share of your driving is on rough surfaces you would probably notice the taught suspension more. Both the front McPherson struts and the rear low-mounted multilink suspension components are attached with some pretty heavy-duty cross members for added rigidity of the chassis.

Instruments and controls are simple and efficient. The rubbery-covered soft padded dash has a passing resemblance to the Altima because of its steep slope, though a bit more conventional. The navigation screen is housed in a pod that pokes out above the center stack. It looks like it was designed to fold out of sight into the dash but it doesn’t. The only element of the dash that doesn’t look at least decent is the plastic trim around the pod. It looks tacky with its rough edge. Otherwise the inside is a very pleasant place to spend time. Nighttime driving has an eerie quality with luminescent blue gauge lighting with red accents on white gauge faces.

Torque-steer is really a problem on slippery streets. I went out mid-afternoon to gas ‘er up before heading out on a 200-mile trip to the north scheduled for the morrow. A 30-mph wind had been blowing all day without a lot of new snow, but enough to get the roads greasy. As I got to town a heavy snow squall hit with snow flakes the size of corn flakes and so dense that visibility was about 50 yards. With lots of horsepower, front-wheel drive and traction control we still lurched sideways every time we accelerated. The big Eagle RS-As, while competent on dry surfaces, aren’t especially effective on ice and show.

Galant comes in 4 versions beginning with the basic 160-hp 4-cylinder DE selling at $20,524. The ES version adds MP3 compatibility, 16-inch wheels, ABS/EBD and a few other goodies for $21,624. DE and ES come with a 4-speed automatic transmission. The GTS gets us the 230-hp version of the 3.8-liter V6 plus 8-way heated power driver’s seat, the pretty blue gauges, leather trim and seats, 17-inch wheels, fog lamps, rear spoiler and 5-speed automatic transmission with manual mode, all for around $25,624. And, our Ralliart adds the 258-hp version of the V6 sport suspension, Sirius radio and a bunch of other stuff for $29,674. The navigation system costs $1,850. Prices are right in the ball park compared to the competition.

EPA fuel mileage estimates are 18-mpg in the city and 27 on the highway. Our first tank, spent exploring the limits of the car both in town and a bit on the highway averaged just about 20-mpg. We then took a road trip involving mostly highway miles so I feathered it to see what we could get. My best guess is we did just about 24-mpg. Then, as I was researching the specs on the engine I noticed we were supposed to be using premium fuel. Ooops. We could probably do 27 with the correct fuel. The fuel tank holds 17.7 US gallons. The Galant Ralliart weights 3748-pounds, distributed 60:40 front to rear.

Warranty is 5-years/60,000-miles bumper-to-bumper, 10-years/100,000-miles on the powertrain and 7-years/100,000-miles against corrosion.

My two biggest complaints about the Ralliart are that it does not have dual exhaust and it cannot be had with a manual transmission. What’s up with that? A nice modestly high-performance sedan without dual exhaust and stick. If those are my biggest complaints, though, you can see this is a pretty good car.

© Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved