Mitsubishi Galant VR-4

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A sixth generation Mitsubishi Galant VR-4, on display at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2009.

The Mitsubishi Galant VR-4 was the range-topping version of Mitsubishi Motors' Galant model, available in the sixth (1988–92), seventh (1992–96) and eighth (1996–2002) generations of the vehicle. Originally introduced to comply with the new Group A regulations of the World Rally Championship, it was soon superseded as Mitsubishi's competition vehicle by the Lancer Evolution, and subsequently developed into a high-performance showcase of the company's technology.

Background and competition history[edit]

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (MMC) sought to improve its image through the established path of participation in motorsport. The Lancer 1600 GSR and Pajero/Montero/Shogun both achieved great success in rallying and Rally Raid events,[1][2] and eventually the company planned an attempt on the Group B class of the World Rally Championship with a four-wheel drive version of its Starion coupé. However, the class was outlawed following several fatal accidents in 1985 and '86, and Mitsubishi was forced to reassess its approach. It instead homologated the recently introduced sixth generation of its Galant sedan for the Group A class, using the mechanical underpinnings from its aborted Starion prototype. Between 1988 and '92, it was campaigned by the official factory outfit, Mitsubishi Ralliart Europe, winning three events in the hands of Mikael Ericsson (1989 1000 Lakes Rally),[3] Pentti Airikkala (1989 Lombard RAC Rally)[4] and Kenneth Eriksson (1991 Swedish Rally).[5] It was also driven to outright victory in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championships by Kenjiro Shinozuka (1988) and Ross Dunkerton (1991–92), and the American National GT Championship (1992) by Tim O'Neil.[6]

However, Mitsubishi — and their competitors — realised that the WRC cars of the '80s were simply too big and ungainly for the tight, winding roads of rally stages. Sometime around 1992, Ford migrated the Sierra/Sapphire Cosworth to a smaller Escort-based bodyshell; Subaru developed the Impreza to succeed their Legacy; Toyota eventually replaced the Celica coupe with the Corolla; and Korea's Hyundai migrated their front-wheel drive Coupe-based rally car to a smaller 3-door Accent hatchback-based bodyshell in 1999. Mitsubishi, meanwhile, carried the VR-4's engine/transmission over to the new Lancer Evolution, bringing to an end the Galant's representation in MMC's motorsport efforts.

WRC Victories[edit]

No. Event Season Driver Co-driver
1 Finland 39th 1000 Lakes Rally 1989 Sweden Mikael Ericsson Sweden Claes Billstam
2 United Kingdom 38th Lombard RAC Rally 1989 Finland Pentti Airikkala United Kingdom Ronan McNamee
3 Ivory Coast 22ème Rallye Côte d'Ivoire Bandama 1990 France Patrick Tauziac France Claude Papin
4 Sweden 40th International Swedish Rally 1991 Sweden Kenneth Eriksson Sweden Staffan Parmander
5 Ivory Coast 23ème Rallye Côte d'Ivoire Bandama 1991 Japan Kenjiro Shinozuka United Kingdom John Meadows
6 Ivory Coast 24ème Rallye Côte d'Ivoire Bandama 1992 Japan Kenjiro Shinozuka United Kingdom John Meadows

Sixth generation (E38A/E39A)[edit]

6th generation
Overview
Production 1987–1992
Assembly Nagoya plant, Okazaki, Aichi
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door saloon
5-door hatchback
Layout Front engine, four-wheel drive
Powertrain
Engine 1997 cc DOHC 16v I4, turbo
Transmission Four-wheel drive,
4-speed automatic
5-speed manual

Group A regulations dictated a turbocharged engine of 2.0 L displacement and a four-wheel drive transmission. In order to satisfy the mandatory minimum sales requirements of 5,000 units, Mitsubishi made it available in North America, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, and other Asian Pacific Rim territories, with 2,000 reaching the United States in 1991, and 1000 units imported in 1992.[7] It also satisfied Japanese regulations concerning external dimensions and engine displacement, thereby reducing a sales handicap in Japan with regards to additional taxes paid by Japanese owners. In road-going trim the four-door sedan produced up to 195 horsepower depending on market, giving the car a top speed of over 130 mph (210 km/h) and allowing it to accelerate from 0-60 in 7.3 seconds, with a quarter mile elapsed time of 15.3 seconds. This car also featured power-assisted speed-sensitive four-wheel steering: the rear wheels steered in the same phase as the front wheels above 30 mph (48 km/h), up to 1.5 degrees.

A liftback version was also produced, known as the Eterna ZR-4. This had some minor cosmetic differences, but mechanically was the same as the VR-4 sedan.

Technical specifications[edit]

Engine
Configuration — DOHC 16v inline 4-cylinder
Code4G63T
Bore/stroke, capacity — 85.0 x 88.0 mm, 1997 cc
Compression ratio — 7.8:1
Fuelling — ECI-MULTI, premium unleaded fuel
Peak power — 177 kW (241 PS; 237 hp) at 6000 rpm
Peak torque — 304 N·m (224 lb·ft) at 3500 rpm
Transmission — 4-speed auto / 5-speed manual
SuspensionMacPherson struts (front), double wishbones (rear)
Dimensions
Length — 4,560 mm (179.5 in)
Width — 1,695 mm (66.7 in)
Height — 1,440 mm (56.7 in)
Wheelbase — 2,600 mm (102.4 in)
Kerb weight — 1,483 kg (3,269 lb)
Fuel tank — 62 L
Wheels/tyres — 195/60 R15 86H

Seventh generation (E84A/E74A)[edit]

7th generation
Vr4-93.jpg
Overview
Production 1992–1996
Assembly Nagoya plant, Okazaki, Aichi
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door saloon
5-door hatchback
Layout Front engine, four-wheel drive
Powertrain
Engine 1998 cc DOHC 24v V6, twin-turbo
Transmission Four-wheel drive,
4-speed automatic
5-speed manual

For 1992, the emergence of the homologated Lancer meant the top-spec Galant was no longer constrained by sporting regulations. The existing, proven 4WD transmission was carried over, in keeping with Mitsubishi's reputation for performance-enhancing technology, but the old straight-4 was superseded by a smoother twin-turbo 2.0 L V6, and mated either to a conventional 5-speed manual, or a 4-speed INVECS auto complete with "fuzzy logic", which allowed the transmission to adapt to the driver's style and road conditions "on the fly". It was capable of dispatching the 0-60 sprint in about 6.5 seconds, and if derestricted could reach about 140 mph (230 km/h).

Variants of this car using the same engine/drivetrain were sold in Japan as the Eterna XX-4 liftback (1992), Emeraude four-door hardtop (92-94), and Galant Sports GT liftback (1994–96).

Technical specifications[edit]

Engine
Configuration — DOHC 24v V type 6-cylinder
Code6A12TT
Bore/stroke, capacity — 78.4 x 69.0 mm, 1998 cc
Compression ratio — 8.5:1
Fuelling — ECI-MULTI, premium unleaded fuel
Peak power — 177 kW (241 PS; 237 hp) at 6000 rpm
Peak torque — 309 N·m (228 lb·ft) at 3500 rpm
Transmission — 4-speed auto / 5-speed manual
SuspensionMulti-link (front & rear)
Dimensions
Length — 4,630 mm (182.3 in)
Width — 1,730 mm (68.1 in)
Height — 1,410 mm (55.5 in)
Wheelbase — 2,635 mm (103.7 in)
Kerb weight — 1,430 kg (3,150 lb)
Fuel tank — 64 litres (14 imp gal; 17 US gal)
Wheels/tyres — 205/60 R15 91Vβ̞

Eighth generation (EC5A/EC5W)[edit]

8th generation
VR41.jpg
Overview
Production 1996–2003
Assembly Nagoya plant, Okazaki, Aichi
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door saloon
5-door wagon
Layout Front engine, four-wheel drive
Powertrain
Engine 2498 cc DOHC 24v V6, twin-turbo
Transmission Four-wheel drive,
5-speed semi-auto
5-speed manual

The final VR-4 was introduced in 1996. The engine capacity was enlarged substantially to 2.5 L, which pushed the power up by 15 percent to the Japanese voluntary limit of 206 kW (280 PS; 276 hp), but no longer satisfied Japanese regulations concerning engine displacement size and, as a result, Japanese buyers were now liable for additional yearly tax requirements. The car was now capable of over 150 mph (240 km/h) when derestricted, and could accelerate from 0-60mph (0-96km/h) in about six seconds.[8]

The Type-V model could be specified with either the existing 5-speed manual or the optional INVECS-II, which was now an advanced self-learning 5-speed semi-auto based on Porsche's Tiptronic transmission, while the Type-S model offered the optional Active Yaw Control (AYC). This complex rear diff was first seen on the Lancer Evo IV, and used an array of sensors to detect and quell oversteer, giving the ultimate VR-4 great agility for a vehicle of its size and weight. From 1998 onwards however, Active yaw control was no longer available with manual transmission. A Super VR-4 variant was sold on both the Galant sedan and the Legnum wagon, with only cosmetic changes such as Recaro front seats and Momo steering wheel.

With the eighth generation of the Galant, Mitsubishi introduced a station wagon (known in many markets as the Legnum) to replace the old 5-door hatchback, and the VR-4 was now available in both body styles.

North America and Europe were again denied this model, but the burgeoning grey import trade meant that it developed a cult following in several overseas territories, especially the United Kingdom and New Zealand. In 2000 MMC's motorsport partner Ralliart was contracted to type-approve Galants and Lancers for UK sales, and 200 VR-4s were officially imported before production finally ceased two years later.

Technical specifications[edit]

Engine
Configuration — DOHC 24v V type 6-cylinder
Code6A13TT
Bore/stroke, capacity — 81.0 × 80.8 mm, 2498 cc
Compression ratio — 8.5:1
Fuelling — ECI-MULTI, premium unleaded fuel
Peak power — 206 kW (280 PS; 276 hp) at 5500 rpm
Peak torque — 367 N·m (271 lb·ft) at 4000 rpm
Transmission — 5-speed semi-auto / 5-speed manual
SuspensionMulti-link (front & rear)
Dimensions
Length — 4,680 mm (184.3 in)
Width — 1,760 mm (69.3 in)
Height — 1,420 mm (55.9 in)
Wheelbase — 2,635 mm (103.7 in)
Curb weight — 1,520 kg (3,350 lb)
Fuel tank — 60 L
Wheels/tyres — 225/50 R16 91V
6A13TT engine.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lancer 1600GSR, Mitsubishi Motors' Web Museum
  2. ^ "Pajero - King of the Desert", Mitsubishi Motors' Web Museum
  3. ^ 39th 1000 Lakes Rally, Final classification, Rallybase.nl website
  4. ^ 38th Lombard RAC Rally, Final classification, Rallybase.nl website
  5. ^ 40th International Swedish Rally, Final classification, Rallybase.nl website
  6. ^ Biography of Tim O'Neil, Rally Racing News
  7. ^ Mitsubishi Galant VR-4s imported into the United States (6th generation), GalantVR4.org website
  8. ^ "2000 Mitsubishi Galant/Legnum VR-4". Autozine. Retrieved 2010-11-29. 

External links[edit]