Mitsubishi Galant VR-4 was the top-end version of the Mitsubishi Galant and was offered in its sixth (1988-92), seventh (1992-96) and eighth (1996-2002) generations. It was produced primarily produced to fulfill the new Group A regulations of the World Rally Championship.
Background & Competition History
Mitsubishi worked extremely hard during the 1970s and 1980s to improve its image in motorsport. Following the success of the Lancer 1600GSR and Pajero/Montero/Shogun in rallying and Rally Raid events, the company decided to make an effort on the Group B class of the World Rally Championship with its 4-wheel drive Starion coupe. The Group B class was banned later following a series of fatal accidents forcing Mitsubishi to review its approach. Mitsubishi instead of going for any new model took the recently launched sixth generation model of Galant sedan and entertained it with the mechanical features of the ceased Starion prototype. From 1988 to 1992, the car was campaigned under the official factory outfit, Mitsubishi Ralliart Europe and won three events, i.e. Mikael Ericsson (1989 1000 Lakes Rally), Pentti Airikkala (1989 Lombard RAC Rally) and Kenneth Eriksson (1991 Swedish Rally). It also won the Asia-Pacific Rally Championships under the driving expertise of Kenjiro Shinozuka (1988) and Ross Dunkerton (1991-92) and the American National GT Championship (1992) under the hands of Tim O’Neil.
Sooner than later, Mitsubishi along with their rivals understood that the WRC cars of the eighties were too big for the narrow, curving roads of rally stages. Hence, the Ford replaced the Sierra/Sapphire Cosworth with a smaller Excort-based bodyshell; Impreza took over Legacy for Subaru; Toyota Corolla replaced the Toyota Celica; and Mitsubishi shifted the VR-4’s engine and transmission to the latest Lancer Evolution, marking the end of the Galant’s role in Mitsubishi Motors motorsport efforts.
Sixth Generation (E38A/E39A)
The first Galant VR-4 was introduced as a sixth generation version of the Galant sedan. It was designed in a way to fulfill the Group A regulation, i.e. displacement of 2.0-L and a 4-wheel drive platform. Mitsubishi aimed to sale 5000 units of the vehicle and for this purpose the car was exported to North America, New Zealand, Australia, Japan and other Asian Pacific Rim territories. This 4-door sedan developed 177 kW (241 PS; 237 hp) with a top speed of 130mph. Another important feature was power-assisted speed-sensitive four-wheel steering.
In later years, a liftback version called the Eterna ZR-4 was also released.
Seventh Generation (E84A/E74A)
By 1992, the homologated Lancer appeared on the scene suggesting that the high end Galant was no more under the sporting regulations restrictions. The 4-wheel drive transmission was continued to be used while the old straight-4 engine was dropped and replaced by twin-turbo 2.0-L V6 engine paired with either a traditional 5-speed manual or 4-speed INVECS auto complete with ‘Fuzzy logic’.
There were many variants of this car marketed in Japan under the Eterna XX-4 liftback (1992) and Galant Sports GT liftback (1994-1996) names.
Eighth Generation (EC5A/EC5W)
In 1996, Mitsubishi launched the final version of VR-4. The power was enhanced with the introduction of 2.5-L engine that increased the engine output by 15 percent to bring it to 206 kW (280 PS; 276 hp) with a maximum speed of 150 mph (240 km/h).