2007 Mitsubishi Galant Ralliart
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Review and photos by Chris Chase

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Photo Gallery: 2007 Mitsubishi Galant Ralliart

What happens when you take an underdog family car, wind it up with some go-fast bits and let it go in the competitive mid-size sedan segment?

You get the Mitsubishi Galant Ralliart. This is the first Galant to receive the Ralliart treatment, which adds a stiffer suspension, a more powerful version of the company’s 3.8-litre V6 and 18-inch wheels borrowed from the company’s Eclipse sports coupe, and a bunch of convenience features. But perhaps the most striking feature is the price: at a shade under $35,000, this might be the least-expensive sporty sedan (as opposed to a sport sedan, which, to me, is a term best applied to cars with more performance baked into the basic mix; think BMW, for example).

The big V6 is the same one used in other Galants but with the same high-po tuning that it gets in the Eclipse giving it 258 horsepower, a 28-horse increase over the next-down-the-ladder Galant LS. The result is one quick car: hammer the gas, and the car hammers back with strong acceleration, thanks in part to the engine’s 258 lb-ft of torque. It’s a big motor, but it loves to rev and will happily rip to redline when asked for spirited acceleration. The big engine is smooth no matter how fast it’s turning, but tends to get loud at high revs.

Unfortunately, any significant application of throttle also brings an unfortunate side effect: torque steer, and lots of it. In his first drive of the Galant Ralliart, contributor Laurance Yap called the effect a “festival of torque steer.” Yup, it’s a party all right, but not a whole lot of fun.

2007 Mitsubishi Galant Ralliart
2007 Mitsubishi Galant Ralliart
Click image to enlarge

But under more sedate acceleration, everything goes much more smoothly. The transmission switches from one gear to the next with nary a shudder or lurch, and the engine is barely audible until the throttle gets into torque-steer territory, when it tends to be noisy. Indeed, at cruising speeds, barely anything is audible. Wind noise is nicely hushed, as is road noise – uncommon in a car with stiff springs and low-profile tires. Only really serious bumps – sunken manhole covers or bad frost heaves, for example – elicit any serious noise from the suspension either. It’s as quiet in here as it is in many more expensive sedans.

I love a car with a nicely controlled ride, and the Galant Ralliart delivers here too – maybe a little too much. While the uprated springs and dampers are well-matched, the ride is harsh on rough roads. The upside is flat cornering and a chassis that is not easily upset by mid-corner bumps.

The steering is nicely weighted – well-suited to the car’s sporting pretensions – and transmits just enough road feel to keep things interesting. There’s a lot of bump steer, though – where putting one front wheel over a bump causes the car to veer to that side – and what’s with the huge steering wheel? Your grandfather would love a wheel this big in his Buick. The rim is pretty slim too: not well-suited to a car with sporting pretensions. The turning circle is huge, making tight parking manoeuvres a pain.

2007 Mitsubishi Galant Ralliart
2007 Mitsubishi Galant Ralliart
2007 Mitsubishi Galant Ralliart
2007 Mitsubishi Galant Ralliart
Click image to enlarge

The Galant treats front-seat occupants to large, comfortable seats. They’re perhaps not the ultimate in sport seats – there’s not a ton of lateral support – but the deep bottom cushion means great thigh support, though I could see drivers with short legs finding it hard to get comfortable.

Headroom and legroom are generous all around, and it feels like Mitsubishi paid a lot of attention to rear seat comfort; the chairs back there are more comfortable than some cars’ front seats.

The rest of the interior is a bit of a letdown, though. While it’s all functional, there are just too many cheap touches. The gauge faces look like something you could buy for $20 on E-bay, and while the blue backlighting is cool, it’s uneven and, as a result, unattractive. Speaking of backlighting, only the driver’s window switch lights up; the rest of the door-mounted controls disappear at night.

The centre stack is, well, prominent. It’d look at home in an early-90s car, but looks really dated here. The standard navigation system (it doubles as a pretty useful trip computer when you know where you’re going) is nice to have at this price point, but the screen washes out easily in daylight.

The automatic climate control works well enough, but it tends toward the spastic, varying the fan speed and vent settings abruptly as it works to keep the temperature constant; the fan is quite loud, too.

And while I’m griping, why do the “holy-crap” grab handles snap back up against the headliner when you let go of them? Even most sub-compacts get nicely-damped handles these days. And forget about making an Ikea run with this car – the back seat doesn’t fold down, though there is a pass through behind the foldaway centre armrest.

2007 Mitsubishi Galant Ralliart
2007 Mitsubishi Galant Ralliart
Click image to enlarge

At $34,998 (before freight), the Galant Ralliart is a real bargain, considering the high level of standard equipment. To get the same level of equipment in some of the Galant’s competitors, you’d have to pay $38,098 for a Nissan Altima 3.5SE with a manual transmission, and a Honda Accord EX-V6 Navi is worth $36,700. Add the optional navigation system to the price of a Camry SE V6 and you’re on the hook for more than $41,000, and the same goes for the MazdaSpeed6.

So on paper, the Galant is a good deal compared to those cars. Problem is that those cars are better overall, with nicer interior design and less punishing rides. Ditch some of the unnecessary extras in the others – leather seats and navigation, for example – and the Galant’s price advantage starts to wear thin.

The Galant would be a wiser buy in one of the lower trim levels. This way, you’d get a more compliant ride and a more attractive dash (thanks to losing the navigation system, which isn’t available in non-Ralliart Galants) without giving up the Galant’s best qualities: its roomy interior, comfortable seats and generous warranty. Go underdog, go.

Pricing: 2007 Mitsubishi Galant Ralliart


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