These are cars that can be placed in that file labelled 'but what do they look like?' That's a shame, as Mitsubishi's Galant, in every guise so far produced, has proved to be a capable design deserving of far more success than was actually achieved. Recently lifted import restrictions held back sales, of course, but helped ensure stronger residual values than more common rivals. Restrained styling didn't help much either, because the Galant had to battle far more charismatic European competitors.
A new model, released in early 1997, at last gained distinctive styling and the UK importer reckons this plus price cuts announced at the end of 1999 have changed the Galant's image from forgettable to desirable. The latest shape is on the used market in relatively small numbers but sufficient to give some much-needed zest to Mitsubishi's reliable and long-lasting image.
The first of the models we're looking at is the sixth generation Galant which first appeared in June 1988, not long after its Japanese release. The most interesting car in the range was the 2000 GTi 16v which was well equipped and boasted a 140bhp 16-valve engine. It was accompanied by more humble versions, including a 2.0-litre GLSi and 1.8-litre GLS. There was also a turbo diesel called the GLS TD with a 1.8-litre engine but that was sold for less than two years.
The five-door hatchback arrived in May 1989 in 2.0-litre GLSi form and was called the Coupe. It was joined in April 1990 by an all-singing, all-dancing four-wheel drive, four-wheel steer GTi Coupe. This was the era of the Japanese showing off their clever engineering, remember. (Would that the technology had lived up to the promises made; it usually only acted as a gimmick, sadly.) Having said that, the Galant did win the RAC Rally in this form...
The range received a face-lift in August 1990 with new rear lamps and new alloy wheels for the GTis. The wheels were changed again a year later at the time of the final minor face-lift. These cars arrived in October 1991 and can be identified by a two-piece chrome grille.
The seventh-generation cars were released in February 1993. The GTi died and was replaced by the 2000 24v V6. The rest of the range again started with a 1.8-litre saloon, joined now by a five-door Coupe. There were also two-litre versions of both but only one trim level, GLSi. The introduction of the more compact Carisma in 1996 thinned the Galant range and, by the end of that year, only the base V6 and the 2.0-litre GLSi remained.
In March 1997, Mitsubishi proudly unveiled what was then Japan's latest Car of the Year, the eighth generation Galant. The styling was somewhat less than ground breaking but, in Japan, the range did at least boast revolutionary new Gasoline Direct Injection petrol engines (GDI). Problems with European fuel quality prevented these from being exported, however, so a unique marketing opportunity was missed until 1999.
The 2.0-litre four-cylinder and 2.5-litre V6 engines that did appear provided the Galant saloon and estates with good performance but prices between £17,450 and £21,800 meant the new cars were up against strong prestige competition. Only a relative small number are on the used market.
In summer 1999, 'official' imports of turbocharged VR4 Galants began but these Japanese market specification cars (modified for the UK on arrival) are extremely rare. A few months later, the range was revised with lower prices and minor styling tweaks plus the addition of a 2.4-litre GDI petrol engine and a V6 Sport model in place of the GLSi. The Galant ceased to be towards the end of 2003.