When it comes to Japanese cars, it is very easy to remember the numerous amounts of Japanese metal that came over here throughout the ’90s. Think of the ’90s and you instantly think Skylines, Supra’s, Celica ST205 GT4’s, Mazda RX-7’s, and even the underrated yet amazing Mitsubishi GTO/3000GT. Out of the numerous Jap cars that graced our UK shores, there is one that stands out from the rest for very good reasons and that is the 8th generation Mitsubishi Galant/Legnum.
So what was the Galant and what made it so special? Well, the Galant was the flagship saloon and wagon throughout the ’70s, ’80s & especially the ’90s. Throughout the years it was instantly evolving from a good, well-rounded Japanese car into one of the best in my opinion. This especially came into effect during the majority of the ’90s where the Galant became somewhat of an underrated beast. Before we get onto the truly phenomenal 8th gen VR-4 though, first of all, I will go through the standard model first so you can get an idea of how good it actually was even in standard guise.
When the 8th generation came round in 1996, just like the previous models before it, it was vastly improved in pretty much every aspect. Instead of the curvy and rounded looks of the 7th gen, the 8th gen car was a whole lot sharper-looking, especially at the front end where it got the nickname of ‘Shark Nose’ due to its mean-looking bumper, grille and headlamp setup. Compared to a similarly aged Accord or Camry, the Galant was leaps and bounds ahead when it came to overall exterior looks.
Interior wise, they were built really well with good solid materials used all around and tons of practicality available. If you decided to specify leather seats, you got full piped seats all round that was unbelievably comfy. If you bought the Wagon like most did then you also benefitted from a massive cargo area equal to the size of a Volvo wagon. Above all of this, it gave the owner the feeling of actual class that a lot of other cars couldn’t even come close to.
Engines available ranged from a 1.8 GDi ‘4G93’ to the 3.0 V6 ‘6G72’, in the UK we got the 2.0 4 cylinder ‘4G94’, the 2.5 V6 N/A ‘6A13’ producing 163bhp, the 2.4 GDI ‘4G64’ and the 2.5 V6 ‘6A13TT’ solely for the VR-4 weapon. All the engines available suited the cars well, with power raising from 134bhp in the 2.0’s to a whopping 280bhp for the VR-4, there was an engine for everyone. Out of the bunch, both of the 2.5 V6’s were the ones to go for. They both made great power with decent reliability and pretty good MPG for a V6. Out of the three V6’s available, one stood out from the rest and that was the ‘6A13TT’ unit used in what has to be one of my favorite ever affordable dream cars – the Galant/Legnum VR-4!!
With the spotlight solely focused on the Lancer Evo’s of the ’90s, it was very easy to forget about the Galant/Legnum VR-4 and Mitsubishi knew this so, in the late nineties, they made sure the Galant was not to be forgotten – the VR-4 was back with a vengeance!! Now, this wasn’t the only VR-4 to be created, in fact, the VR-4 badge was first seen on the 6th gen Galant of the late eighties as well as the early 90’s 7th gen as well. When the 8th gen VR-4 came out in 1996, It was basically a grown-up Evo 5/6. with VR-4 standing for Viscous Realtime Four Wheel Drive, This gave the 8th gen Galant the grip of the Evo, as well as some of its features onto a bigger platform car. The engine was also seriously upgraded as well. Mitsubishi took the already brilliant 2.5 V6 ‘6A13’ from the normal car, added a couple of cheeky turbochargers as well as a massive intercooler thus creating what can only be described as a bit of a beast in automotive form.
Power was upped from a respectful 163bhp to a whopping 280bhp. this was due to a bore/stroke of 81.0 x 80.8 mm, this also gave a compression ratio of 8.5:1, not bad for a 2.5 V6 engine. Derestricted, the 8th gen VR-4 could hit 150mph which was crazy for a big saloon/wagon. 0-60 mph was dealt with within 5.7 seconds for the INVECS-II 5-speed semi-auto and a crazy 5.3 seconds for the 5-speed conventional manual, that’s still fast even by today’s standards, not bad for a car that is over 20 years old!!
With the Evo, GTO/3000GT, and now the Galant VR-4, during the ’90s Mitsubishi simply couldn’t be touched. Whether it was on the rally scene, the Sports Coupé scene, or even the super saloon scene, Mitsubishi went from being a dependable but underrated company to a manufacturer of some of the best cars for sale during the ’90s. In fact, the 8th generation Galant was so good it was awarded the ‘Japanese Car Of The Year 1996-97’ award for the second time.
Production stopped for the UK market in 2003 due to expensive build costs and overall lack of interest in the model which was a real shame considering how well built the car was and how well the VR-4 was received. Since it’s disappearance in 2003, the Galant has never been sold here in the UK and it’s highly unlikely that Mitsubishi will bring the name back, nevermind make a performance model again.
Reliability on these old Galant’s are second to none, these cars were made when Mitsubishi made their cars properly, so much so in fact that it is very easy to see one of these cars hit well over 200k miles and still drive and feel as tight as a drum. Bodywork issues aren’t too bad, now, of course, every Japanese car of this age will suffer from rust and the Galant is no exception. They tend to rust over the rear wheel arches near the door shuts so watch for that. Suspension issues can also become noticeable, especially on the VR-4’s that have a multilink setup on them.
Check the body kit on the VR-4’s for scrapes and cracks, due to the lowered suspension it is very easy to get the front bumper especially caught on high curbs. Apart from that, the 8th generation Galant is a very reliable yet capable underrated saloon & wagon, especially in VR-4 trim. If you want to get one then now is the time to buy as they’re getting really cheap for what they are. If you want a JDM Import Wagon then get searching for a Legnum VR-4, these are pretty much the same as the UK Galant but with a slightly different rear-end styling, a few more bits and pieces from the Evo’s of the generation as well as a Momo Steering wheel and Recaro front seats.
With a lot of Japanese cars from the ’90s being loved by every petrolhead going, the 8th generation Galant/Legnum stands underrated by the JDM fanboys of the world. With this being the case, prices are possibly the lowest they’ve ever been. They’re very rare as well so getting a good one won’t be easy but once found, you’ll be forever smitten with it. If you can get the even rarer VR-4 then you seriously are winning at life, In wagon form, these cars are really all you’ll ever need in life. So the next time you see one of these on the road, show a little bit more respect to one of Japans forgotten about legends.
Hope You Enjoy!
By Alex Jebson