Think that the only high-performance version of the Mitsubishi Galant is the
VR4 AWD turbo? Guess again! If you’re a fan of naturally aspirated performance,
you’ll love the Japanese market Galant AMG.
Pop the bonnet of the AMG enhanced Galant and there’s not much to drool over
– it looks much the same as the plain Galant DOHC engine. But venture onto the
road and you’ll find the AMG keeps punching where the base engine runs out of
breath – torque holds strong to around 8000 rpm!
So how does the AMG deliver its top-end kick?
Easy - with traditional hot-up techniques. The AMG version features new
pistons (which raise the compression ratio from 9:1 to 10.4:1), piston oil jets,
aggressive camshafts, titanium valve springs, hollow rocker arms, a high-flow
exhaust manifold and muffler, dual-stage Cyclone intake manifold and revised
engine management. Give it a tank full of high-octane unleaded fuel and the AMG
tuned 2-litre (coded 4G63) pumps out 125kW at 6750 rpm and 191Nm at 5000 rpm.
This places it squarely between the 103kW Galant GSR and the 148/151kW
The AMG engine is mated to an upgraded 5-speed manual or 4-speed auto
transmission. The upgraded 5-speed (as fitted to our test car) comes with
relatively short ratios, a larger diameter clutch and a beefier passenger side
The AMG delivers its tuned 2-litre grunt through the front wheels and,
without a LSD, you need to be gentle when launching off the line. Too many revs
means too much wheelspin. Still, we recorded 0 – 100 km/h performance
comfortably in the mid 8 second range – not bad for a medium sized 2-litre
sedan. There is slight torque steer that can be felt when ripping up through the
gears but in normal driving it's undetectable.
Throw it through corners and, as expected, there is some understeer and
inside front wheelspin. The Galant AMG isn’t as surefooted as the AWD VR4 but
the progressive nature of the engine helps ensue the chassis never does anything
uncivilised. It’s easily controllable.
The AMG suspension features gas-charged dampers but the springs are very
soft. This means you enjoy a compliant ride but there is some roll and pitch
when driving hard. The brakes of the AMG are also beefed up. As far as we can
determine, the AMG’s 2-pot front calipers are shared with the Australian-spec
VR4. ABS was optional but was not fitted to our test car.
The steering is a pleasant surprise. The AMG has a quick-rack arrangement
(2.7 turns lock-to-lock in the auto and 2.8 turns lock-to-lock in the manual)
and there’s better steering feel and precision than the VR4. A small
diameter steering wheel also contributes to the relatively sporty steering feel.
Overall, the front-wheel-drive AMG has a much more chuckable and responsive
feel compared to the VR4. At 1220 – 1240kg, this is the lightest
high-performance Galant and it further benefits from excellent throttle response
and direct steering. It has a nice, sharp feel to it.
Inside, the AMG is comprehensively decked out. Standard equipment includes
leather trim, power windows, digital climate control and a CD player (which is
pretty impressive for 1989!). Our test car was also equipped with an optional
timber trim package, which comprises inserts in the doors, a timber gear knob
and Nardi steering wheel.
The cabin is very comfortable and classy, though the small diameter steering
wheel does block vision of the instrument cluster. This is a very practical
four-door with the exception that it lacks a split-fold rear backrest – the
ski-port is a poor substitute.
The late ‘80s Galant is a very conservative looking car but the AMG aero kit
gives it a touch of aggression. The AMG wears a unique grille, three-piece rear
spoiler, skirts, stickers and chunky 15 inch alloy wheels (wearing 195/60 15
tyres). Unfortunately, the dark grey colour of our test car hides many of the
AMG’s distinguishing features.
The Galant AMG was released in Japan during
October 1989 and the last examples were sold in late 1990. Our 1989 test car was
supplied by Adelaide Japanese Imports and it presented as an honest 123,500km
vehicle. The current price – which includes ADR-ing and on-road registration -
is just AUD$7850.
So what sort of buyer does the Galant AMG suit?
Well, we reckon anyone that wants good all-round performance in a practical
and economical sedan package. If you can’t insure a turbocharged VR4, this is a
highly attractive machine.
The majority of body and mechanical parts should be easy to source, though
the AMG’s distinguishing engine, driveline and body components are hard to come
by. At the time of writing, Adelaide Japanese Imports have a bare AMG-tuned
engine arriving from
Japan - it’d be
wise to negotiate a deal that secures you a spare engine.
If the standard performance of the Galant AMG gets boring you can easily
upgrade the air intake and exhaust. The dual-stage Cyclone intake manifold can
remain untouched – it provides an excellent spread of torque across the rev
range. The Mitsubishi frequency output airflow meter can also be teamed with an
aftermarket interceptor to tweak the mixtures and ignition timing. Combined, you
can expect these mods to provide a 10 – 15 percent power gain (bringing the
total to 137 – 143kW). The next logical step is to drop in the Galant VR4 turbo
engine – but, then, that would go against AMG’s original intent. At this point
you’d be better off with a VR4.
Keep your mods subtle and you’ll have a very enjoyable relationship with the
Galant AMG. It’s a sweet package that shouldn’t be underrated.