– Value-packed pricing
– Quiet comfortable ride
– Tons of cabin space
– Dull styling details
– Fair body roll in corners
– Not very quick off the line
There are lots of confused people in this world. There are people who buy organic food at higher prices, hoping to add two years to their lives, but binge-drink on weekends, effectively guaranteeing death ten years earlier. Then there are people who buy a Toyota Camry for 10 percent over the average price of a midsize, hoping they will gain 2 percent more in resale value five years down the line. For the more logical among us, there is good wholesome genetically-modified food and the underrated Mitsubishi Galant, both lighter on the wallet and still perfectly safe choices. Hey, if either one was unhealthy, they would’ve come with warning labels.
The redesigned Galant does not look like much, but then again, the market it is aiming for never did put much value in looks. The unique-but-bland front end pretty much hints at the car’s every other attribute too. But after three days in this Mitsubishi-provided press vehicle, we got used to it like we got used to desert summers. We also liked the fact that it costs a fair bit less than the usual Japanese makes, although our car was built in the United States. Anyway, considering the Altima is from the States too, and the Camry is from Australia, only the Accord and the Mazda 6 remain true to their homeland, as far as we know.
Stepping inside, we found the well-built cabin to be more pleasant than the plastic tub of the Toyota Camry. Mitsubishi went the extra mile and added a nicely-padded dash, metallic-look plastic trimmings, and at least mild padding on the door sills. Our mid-level ES model had wide cloth seats with little bolstering, and the front ones were manually adjustable. Interior space is immense in every direction, and even in the back seat. There is a fire extinguisher mounted in the rear passenger floor, but it doesn’t hinder legroom at all. All armrests are padded, with the centre console doubling as a big storage box. There is also a useful tray in the centre for keeping small things such as mobile phones and wallets, while the doors have pockets. Two exposed cup-holders serve the front, while two more are fitted in the rear central armrest. And the rear seat-back has a small pass-through into the large luggage trunk for long items. Features in our tester included an average CD/MP3 player with a display at the top of the dash, along with keyless entry, cruise control, power windows, electric mirrors and quite possibly the strongest a/c we’ve come across this summer. And the Galant offers a class-leading six airbags as standard. Options include a sunroof, leatherette, CD changer, wheel-mounted audio buttons and what not.
But then we noticed where exactly Mitsubishi cut costs. Our optional automatic a/c did not have a digital display and still used knobs instead of buttons. There are no rear a/c vents, except for some holes in the floor under the front seats. There are no bottle-holders in the doors, the rear seat does not fold flat to increase cargo space, and only the driver’s seat-back has a magazine pocket behind it. Our thoroughly-used test car also had some minor defects. The a/c vents were too tight to adjust casually, and the seat-belt warning light for the passenger stayed on infinitely, even though no one was there. But we have to say that the build quality was otherwise exceptional.
Powered by a 2.4-litre four-cylinder, just like the Camry-Accord duo, the front-wheel-drive Galant ES manages 160 hp at 5500 rpm and 213 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm. Weighing heavier than the Camry-Accord duo, while also running with a four-speed automatic instead of a five like the other two, we only managed a 0-100 kph time of 11.9 seconds. Now, granted the summer heat may have played a part in such sluggish acceleration, but we still doubt the Galant can outrun a Camry in a straight line. However, the engine is perfectly adequate in daily driving. The automatic gearbox might only have four speeds, but it is very smooth in most cases, and even comes with an optional tiptronic function that obeys manual shifting inputs with only a slight delay. Due to the lack of a trip computer, we crudely calculated a fuel consumption figure of 13.4 litres per 100 km, with a range of at least 500 km from a full tank. So we can at least confirm it drinks more apple juice than the Camry.
On the highway, the ride is very smooth and surprisingly quiet, with good all-round visibility. There is only a bit of road noise at 120 kph, and the buzzy engine is hushed up well enough to not be annoying under acceleration. Dips in the road occasionally introduce a floaty feeling, but it is a bit less sickening than the softer Camry. Awkward body roll and soft steering are major parts of handling when taking turns fast with this car, but the sizeable 215/60 tyres on the 16-inch alloys have enough grip to keep understeer at bay very well, making it easy to drive near the limit. The limit itself isn’t that high to begin with, but few will ever reach it on public roads.
The Galant thankfully comes with four-wheel disc brakes across the range, with standard ABS brakes as well as electronic brake-force distribution, but no stability control. The brakes do their job well, but the brake pedal is soft and can feel a bit grabby if tipped in too quickly by a sneeze. Such dead-feeling brakes are common among Japanese cars for years now. It does however come with a traditional handbrake instead of a stupid knee-level foot pedal.
The Galant should’ve been a strong contender in the midsize segment. It only has a small number of critical omissions, such as proper rear a/c vents and what not. Otherwise, we think it is a lot of car for the money, especially when a fully-loaded Galant ES costs the same as a basic Camry or Accord. Save some money and be a bit different.