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The Mitsubishi Galant VR-4

The Mitsubishi Galant VR-4缩略图

The Mitsubishi Galant VR-4: Japan’s Rally Hero for the Road

In the late 1980s, Mitsubishi dominated the high-flying world of Group A rallying with the turbocharged, four-wheel drive Lancer Evolution model. Seeking to capture sales from success on the motorsport stage, they launched a road-going version called the Galant VR-4 to bring fierce rally-bred performance to the public. Blurring the lines between motorsport and showroom alike, the muscular Galant VR-4 became an icon overnight in Japan during rallying’s halcyon era.

The Mitsubishi Galant VR-4插图

Bringing Rally Heroics to the Street

The technology powering Mitsubishi’s all-conquering Group A rally Lancers gave engineers an ideal starting point for a rapid road car. They took much of that rally kit – the turbocharged 4G63T engine, four-wheel drive transmission and active rear differential – then mounted it into a new high-performance variant of their executive Galant sedan called the VR-4. With luxury fittings and aggressive styling inside the five-door bodyshell, Mitsubishi created a practical yet pavement-punishing machine equally at home on the road or dirt trails.

Launched in 1988 as Mitsubishi’s new sporting flagship, the all-wheel drive Galant VR-4 became Japan’s effortlessly cool mega-sedan overnight. Enthusiasts and executives alike were irresistibly drawn by the punchy turbo motor, raucous exhaust note and rally-ready stability when the blacktop ended. It was an instant icon. Even with an equivalent $40,000 price tag in 1989, buyers flocked to Mitsubishi showrooms.

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The Ultimate Q-Car Cult Classic

Part of the special appeal behind the Galant VR-4 was how it blended in so easily with regular traffic, hiding extraordinary pace beneath its smart but sober four-door bodywork. With an understated style avoiding extroverted wings or graphics, the car gained serious kudos in Japan as a fantastically quick sleeper or “Q-car” combining otherworldly abilities with unassuming looks.

Despite footballers’ salaries not reaching today’s extremes, even top-flight Japanese players like Gary Lineker couldn’t resist the stealthy Galant’s charm – such star ownership only elevated the car’s cult appeal further. For those in the know, humble bodywork disguised a genuine giant-slayer.

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Driving an All-Wheel Drive Rally Sedan

While bursting with character, the 280-horsepower Galant was no stripped-out special lacking road manners – its well-judged suspension delivered a refined, comfortable ride for cruising which only revealed its rally roots when driven hard. Four-wheel drive traction also brought all-weather capabilities that few sports cars could match.

Yet the turbo engine’s energetic torque – channeling momentum to all corners – gave the VR-4 serious speed along winding roads, with the rear differential counteracting understeer for agile balance. Its steering loaded up keenly, while sheer grip kept it planted through fast corners at odds with its physical size. Here was a family express carving roads like a track toy. Little wonder motorsport comparisons stuck from day one.

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Lasting Legacy Galant VR-4

Mitsubishi continued iterating the VR-4 formula until the late 1990s across three more Galant generations, pairing rally-tuned dynamics with practicality even as public interest drifted from rallying overall. Yet the advanced, motorsport-inspired original remains the connoisseur’s choice as an unspoiled icon today.

The rakish Galant VR-4 broke new ground in 1988, combining otherworldly all-wheel drive performance and usable luxury years ahead of rivals – its lasting significance as Japan’s first rally-bred super-sedan pioneer endures. Fast family cars today owe much inspiration to this Mitsubishi masterpiece where understatement sealed legendary status.

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