Steve Schaefer, Fri, 20 Apr 2007 08:00:00 PDT
You may not have been thinking about Mitsubishi lately. Sure, the new Eclipse is great looking and fast, but you need more room. Maybe that Lancer Evolution is a little too, well, exuberant for you. Yeah, Mitsubishi makes SUVs, but doesn't everybody?
Well, before you wander into some Toyota or Honda dealership, think about this: The new 2007 Mitsubishi Galant Ralliart is a great reason to remember Mitsubishi.
Ordinary Galants keep up with the midsize competition by offering a 160-horsepower four in their regular models. That's nice, but the Ralliart gives you 258 horses from a 3.8-liter V6, and an equal number of lb.-ft of torque to go with it. And, with most of that torque available at low rpms, the Ralliart jumps out when you step on it, and will race to 60 mph in just 6.5 seconds, very competitive for a midsize sedan.
Mitsubishi uses electronic valve timing to maximize the power delivery, their version is called MIVEC, which sounds like Russian but isn't.
If you want a manual transmission, sorry, you can't have one. But don't worry, the five-speed automatic has Sportronic, so you can pick the gear you want and stay in it as long as you want without worrying about any pesky clutches.
There's more to this car besides rocket performance. The Galant itself was restyled recently, but the Ralliart gets a new nose that unsplits the grille. It's now one black-mesh mouth with a chrome surround molding. The raised, tapered hood bulge still rolls over the front, but it wears a bold Mitsubishi logo now instead of body-colored paint. The headlamp covers are smoked, for a mysterious, sunglass-wearing cool kind of look.
The Ralliart wheels are 18s, big for a car, but not freakish like some of the custom sedans out there today. They look like crossed swords, very sharp. The main change to the rear of the car is adoption of clear taillamp lenses, for the desirable aftermarket look. The lenses continue up onto the rear deck, so you find yourself looking down into them, different, to say the least.
Inside, my Ultra Red Pearl test car featured an interior that would satisfy any Raiders fan, black with lots of silver accents. The feeling is strong, capable and powerful. The Ralliart gets its own unique leather seat design, aluminum brake and accelerator pedals, and, of course, Ralliart logos where you can see them.
This car is roomier than some other sports sedans, and that can come in handy, especially for rear-seat passengers. It's a safe place to be, too, with standard side curtain airbags complementing the normal assortment of passive restraints.
The Ralliart is all about loads of standard features. You get Sirius satellite radio, for example, with six months free to try it out.
Satellite radio, in case you haven't heard, is an almost perfect audio entertainment provider. Through the standard 360-watt Rockford Acoustic Design system, the music, news, sports and commentary pours over you as you drive. You can change your environment, too, with presets for Concert, Club, Studio and, if you're not feeling adventurous, Normal. The steering wheel audio remote controls are on the back of the spokes, so you can make adjustments easily without looking away from the road.
You won't hear much else with the Ralliart, except a welcome hint of deep engine rumble as you zoom along. The car feels solid and serene at freeway speeds; and, thanks to special suspension enhancements, it's nimble and quick around town.
Mitsubishi installed higher-rate springs and dampers and a heavier rear stabilizer bar. The low-profile 235/45R all-season tires help keep you planted, too.
Many cars offer touch screens, but the Ralliart's is actually easy to use. You can choose from English, French or Spanish, and the main selection buttons are quarter-sized spots spaced far enough apart that you can't hit the wrong one by mistake or miss it entirely. When some cars' screens display the title and artist for the songs, they cut them off short, sometimes creating funny words. This car's display scrolls them, so you can read more of the information that you get while enjoying satellite radio.
The only downside to satellite radio is the occasional dropouts when you pass under an overpass or a large tree, and this car was not immune. It's just something you live with, I guess. It'll probably be solved in a year or two.
So, are you interested yet? Maybe you'd like to know how much this little hot rod will cost you. Well, how about $27,624, including delivery charges? Does that make that BMW seem a little less absolutely necessary now?
If you like the looks of the Ralliart but want to save a few bucks, the Galant GTS gets a 230-horsepower version of the V6, loses the 18-inch wheels and lists for two grand less. The base level DE comes in at a miserly $20,524, but I'm guessing you're finding the Ralliart much more interesting, aren't you?