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Motoring: Little things don't add up to much on Mitsubishi Galant

Nauman Farooq | Sports | August 28th, 2006

The last time I spent time with the Mitsubishi Galant, things didn't go quite so well.

The car, on top of a lot of noticeable drawbacks, did something that no press car has ever done to me, and that is break down.

Yes, I was literally left stranded by the side of the road, and then I had to deal with road-side assistance which was no delightful matter. The person attending to my call wasn't a good listener and after 20 minutes of trying to deal with him, I decided to slowly and carefully nurse the car back to Mitsubishi's head office, which wasn't far from where I broke down.

All this was quite annoying, and left a rather unpleasant taste in my mouth for this model.

However, time has now come to try this model again and to see if it fairs better this time.

Well I am happy to say the car had no reliability problems and ran perfectly all through the week I drove it.

But what about the other annoyances, have they been cured yet?

You see, this is a good car that could have been a lot better if Mitsubishi just spent some money to improve minor things.

Things like, why are there no grab handles in the roof lining for passengers. I know, it's not the end of the world, but my passengers complained, and since every car in the market has them, why not this one?

Then why did Mitsubishi only put a map pocket behind one seat? On top of that, this pocket is on the wrong seat, which is the driver's seat. The logical place for a map pocket is behind the passenger seat, allowing the driver to reach it without hassle. Also, this is the only car in this category that doesn't have fold-down rear seats.

Then why on earth did no one think of lining the inside of the trunk-lid with some moulded plastic? It again is not the end of the world, but all this shows me that either Mitsubishi wasn't paying much attention when they designed this car, or they simply had no money.

What they really lacked was quality materials for the fit and finish. On this class of car you don't expect premium quality materials, but the ones used are just way too cheap.

However, I will commend Mitsubishi on the styling. It is bold and different, and yes while the base models look a bit ugly, the GTS version I had looked fantastic, thanks to smart alloy wheels, a sporty exhaust and completely different taillights and trunk-lid spoiler to the base cars.

I really did enjoy looking at this car, and I also enjoyed the look of the interior. Yes, while the interior quality is not the best, at least it looks good and I do like the way it lights up at nighttime with purple-blue hues.

What I liked most about this car was the way it goes. The GTS model only comes with the 3.8 litre V6, which produces 230 hp. The only transmission offered is the four-speed automatic with Sportronic mode allowing for manual gear selection.

The gearbox works well, but I did wish that by now, a five-speed automatic gearbox was offered, since many of its competition has already moved to even a six-speed auto.

Still, this car moves very well. The engine pulls strong all the way through and you just sit back and enjoy the power as you pass by other motors thanks to its phenomenal 250 lb/ft of torque.

I know what you're thinking at this point, that this power comes at the expense of fuel economy, right? While its fuel consumption is not great, it is not bad either. I averaged about 14-litres/100km with both city and highway driving. With the amount of fun I had driving this around, the fuel was a small price to pay.

Unfortunately the handling is not as good as I would have liked it to be. However since most cars in this class are not brilliant handling machines (except every Subaru product), that won't put you off from buying one.

What might put me off from buying one is the driver's seat, which doesn't offer support in the right places. On short journeys you don't notice it, but on a long drive it made its lack of support evident to me. I spoke to a few other people who have driven this car (some auto journalists are included here) and they agreed with me regarding the seat. So more improvement is needed in this department too.

So what is the verdict on this car then?

In my view, this could have been a great car, even the best car in its category only if Mitsubishi had paid more attention to the little things.

The Galant range starts at $24,000, and goes to almost $34,000 for this GTS model. For this sort of money unfortunately for Mitsubishi, there are a lot of better cars to be bought. Give me this sum of money and I'd come home with an Acura TSX. Also, given the current depreciation of Mitsubishi models, buying one new is not a wise choice.
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