Mitsubishi Galant VR-4
A sixth generation Mitsubishi Galant VR-4 on display at the Tokyo Motor Show in 2009
Overview
Production1988–2002
AssemblyJapan Nagoya Plant, Okazaki, Aichi
Body and chassis
ClassSports Saloon
Body style4-door saloon
5-door hatchback
LayoutFront engine, four-wheel drive
PlatformMitsubishi Galant platform
RelatedMitsubishi Galant
Powertrain
Engine1997 cc DOHC 16v I4, turbo
TransmissionFour-wheel drive,
4-speed automatic
5-speed manual
Dimensions
Length456cm-466cm
Chronology
SuccessorMitsubishi Lancer Evolution

The Mitsubishi Galant VR-4 (Viscous Realtime 4WD) 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 Originally introduced to comply with the new Group A regulations of the World Rally Championship, it was soon superseded as Mitsubishi's competition vehicle by the Lancer Evolution, and subsequently developed into a high-performance showcase of the company's technology.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

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

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)

6th generation
Overview
Production1987–1992
AssemblyNagoya Plant, Okazaki, Aichi
Body and chassis
Body style4-door saloon
5-door hatchback
LayoutFront engine, four-wheel drive
Powertrain
Engine1997 cc DOHC 16v I4, turbo
TransmissionFour-wheel drive,
4-speed automatic
5-speed manual
Chronology
SuccessorMitsubishi Mirage Evolution / Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution

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.

Mitsubishi developed its first high performance four-wheel drive vehicle in 1987, when it equipped the Galant VR-4 with "Dynamic Four" (Mitsubishi AWC), which featured a center differential-type full-time four-wheel drive system (this system incorporated a viscous coupling unit), a four wheel steering system, four-wheel independent suspension, and a four-wheel ABS (the first total integration of these systems in the world that were highly advanced at the time).

Technical specifications

Engine
Configuration — DOHC 16-valve 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 — 151–177 kW (205–241 PS; 202–237 hp) at 6000 rpm
Peak torque — 294–304 N⋅m (217–224 lb⋅ft) at 3500 rpm
Transmission — 4-speed auto / 5-speed manual
SuspensionMacPherson struts (front), multi-link (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)

7th generation
Overview
Production1992-1997
AssemblyNagoya Plant, Okazaki, Aichi
Body and chassis
Body style4-door saloon
5-door hatchback
LayoutFront engine, four-wheel drive
Powertrain
Engine1999 cc DOHC 24v V6, twin-turbo
TransmissionFour-wheel drive,
4-speed automatic
5-speed manual

For 1992, the emergence of the homologated Lancer Evolution meant that the top-spec Galant VR-4 was no longer constrained by sporting regulations. The new generation thus became a less overtly competition oriented vehicle. The existing, proven 4WD transmission was carried over, in keeping with Mitsubishi's reputation for performance-enhancing technology, but the old inline-four was superseded by a smoother twin-turbo 2.0-litre V6, and mated either to a conventional five-speed manual, or a four-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 accelerating from 0–60 mph (97 km/h) in about 6.5 seconds, and if derestricted could reach about 140 mph (230 km/h).[citation needed]

Variants of the VR-4 using the same engine and drivetrain were sold in Japan as the Eterna XX-4 liftback (1992) and Galant Sports GT liftback (1994–96) and the Evo 3 1994.

Technical specifications

Engine
Configuration – DOHC 24-valve 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 (158 kW (215 PS; 212 hp) for the automatic variant)
Peak torque – 309 N⋅m (228 lb⋅ft) at 3500 rpm
SuspensionMulti-link (front & rear)
Wheels/tyres – 205/60 R15 91Vβ̞

Eighth generation (EC5A/EC5W)

8th generation
Legnum VR-4 Type-S 2000
Overview
ManufacturerMitsubishi
Production1996–2002
AssemblyNagoya Plant, Okazaki, Aichi
Body and chassis
Body style4-door saloon
5-door wagon
LayoutFront engine, four-wheel drive
Powertrain
Engine2498 cc DOHC 24v V6, twin-turbo
TransmissionFour-wheel drive,
5-speed automatic
5-speed manual

The final VR-4 Meaning Viscous Realtime Four Wheel Drive 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) (191 kW (260 PS; 256 hp) for the pre-facelift automatic version), 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 160 mph (260 km/h) when derestricted, and could accelerate from 0–60 mph (0–96 km/h) in 5.3 seconds for the 5-speed manual and 5.7 seconds for the 5-speed INVECS-II, which was now an advanced self-learning automatic based on Porsche's Tiptronic transmission.[8][9]

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.

The pre-facelift model had the basic and Type-S trim level. The basic trim level was the manual version, while the Type-S trim level was only available with INVECS-II but included Active Stability Control (ASC) and Traction Control Logic (TCL). All of the variants for the pre-facelift model offered the 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.

The Super VR-4 trim level was based on the pre-facelift Type-S and sold only in January 1998 on both the Galant sedan and the Legnum wagon, with a limited run of approximately 800 units. Only available in two colors, Redma, a bright red and Hamilton Silver. There're some cosmetic changes for the interior such as Recaro front seats and Momo steering wheel.

The facelift model was introduced in August 1998. The Recaro front seats and Momo steering wheel from the Super VR-4 could be optioned on all models. The ASC and TCL system was now optional on the automatic variants. The basic trim level was replaced by the Type-V and without AYC, only INVECS-II was available for the Legnum wagon, while both INVECS-II and manual was available for the Galant sedan. The Type-S trim level with AYC, only INVECS-II was available for the Galant sedan, while both INVECS-II and manual was available for the Legnum wagon. And also the Type-S gets specialty treatment with 225/50 R16 tires on newer 16-inch alloy rims, together with flared wheel arches to accommodate the wide-tread tires.

North America and Europe were again denied this model which was originally planned to be exclusively for the Japanese domestic market, but the burgeoning grey import trade meant that it developed a cult following in several overseas territories, especially the United Kingdom and New Zealand. This model also sold in Hong Kong by grey import and official dealer (only Galant VR-4s with INVECS-II were officially imported). 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 due to the revision of vehicle emission standards in Japan.

Technical specifications

Engine
Configuration — DOHC 24-valve 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 (191 kW (260 PS; 256 hp) for the pre-facelift automatic variant)
Peak torque — 369 N⋅m (272 lb⋅ft) at 4000 rpm (340 N⋅m (250 lb⋅ft) for the pre-facelift automatic variant)
Transmission — 5-speed automatic / 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 — 1,480–1,570 kg (3,260–3,460 lb)
Fuel tank — 60 L
Wheels/tyres — 205/55 R16 91V (225/50 R16 91V for the facelifted Type-S)
6A13TT engine.
6A13TT engine.

References

  1. ^ Lancer 1600GSR Archived 2006-07-05 at the Wayback Machine, Mitsubishi Motors' Web Museum
  2. ^ "Pajero – King of the Desert" Archived 2006-03-23 at the Wayback Machine, 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 VR-4 Type-S". Automobile Catalog. Retrieved 2015-12-02.
  9. ^ "2001 Mitsubishi Galant VR-4 Type-V". Automobile Catalog. Retrieved 2015-12-02.