My father has owned a multitude of cars at one time or another. Of all the cars that passed through his hands, only one make and model stands out in my mind: the Mitsubishi Galant.
The second-generation 1974 Galant station wagon was our family's weekend ride through the mid-1980s, and then there's the sixth-generation 1988 Galant that bore the brunt of my paternally-taught driver training days.
Getting behind the wheel of the refreshed 2010 Mitsubishi Galant SE was pleasant and nostalgic. Yes, I may be bordering on sentimentality here but it's hard to deny how pleasurable it was to drive a car whose nameplate played a significant part of my formative years.
The ninth-generation Galant's exterior gets a refreshing makeover as Mitsubishi moves on from the pseudo-kidney grill look to a simple, one-piece affair. The midsize car of the three-diamond brand from Japan now looks like the Nippon version of the German brand with the three-pronged star. The new look is complete with the triangular high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps and power side mirrors with power fold function and integrated LED-type turning lamps.
Mitsubishi has always been known to make driver-oriented cars. Sitting on the driver's seat let's you know that, what with the number of control buttons and switches that are immediately within your reach. You won't feel lost, though, because everything is laid out intuitively.
The steering wheel has buttons for Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones, allowing you to browse your phone's directory and make calls without touching the phone itself. And then, of course, there's the now-customary buttons to control the car's 5.1 audio/video system. That's right, a 5.1 system like in a home theater set-up, except this one has 12 speakers and a 10-inch subwoofer that are all nicely hidden away from view.
But the biggest addition for an improved driving experience is the Tiptronic rocker buttons on the stalks, allowing you to change gears without letting go of the steering wheel. If you like to do it the old-fashioned way, you can also shift gears through the use of the manumatic shift lever on the center console. Or you can let the INVECS-II 4-speed automatic transmission smoothly choose gears for you.
Helping keep you comfortable on the road is the eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat that allows you to find the best seating position just by pushing switches.
Backing up the Galant is not a problem since it now has a rear camera that lets you see what's behind the car through the audio/video system monitor. There are also front and rear sonar sensors to help make parking maneuvers easier and safer.
But the piece de resistance in the 2010 Galant SE is the built-in navigation system. The Galant is the first in its class to offer a fully-functional Global Positioning System (GPS). Developed by AVT with the help of Accu-Map, the proud Galant owner can easily get updated maps from AVT's website at www.avt.ph or have it installed at his or her local Mitsubishi dealer.
Other notable features in the 2010 Galant SE include the power sunroof, separate rear aircon vents, an automatic climate control system, and a number of storage compartments.
Although the Galant SE is only available with a 2.4-liter powerplant, it's still capable of putting down 162 horsepower on the road with almost 220 Newton-meters of torque, just enough power to blitz through the South Luzon Expressway from the Santa Rosa exit in Laguna to the Alabang interchange in 15 minutes or so. Not bad for a car that only had 40 kilometers when we took it out of the showroom. Now, imagine what the performance would feel like once it had been properly broken in.
If there's one thing that bothered me with the Galant, it was the back seat. The backrest felt too stiff and too straight. While I was not expecting premium luxury car comfort, I hoped to sink into and be coddled by the supple, buttery-soft texture of the leather seats. I just didn't find it ergonomic enough. I'll just attribute this to the backseat's cushions not having been thoroughly broken in yet. The way I see it, this only shows Mitsubishi's driver oriented character. And that's a good thing, really.
True to this nature, the Galant felt rock-solid as I weaved through traffic while driving. For a car that's pang-tatay, it went really fast while keeping the occupants inside oblivious to its speed. I had to periodically check the speedometer to see how fast we were going just to be sure we were traveling within speed limit.
For all the toys it has as standard, the 2010 Galant SE's price of P1.588 million makes it a relative steal.
The 2010 Galant SE is a very good alternative to the now-ubiquitous Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. If you want to be unique it is a good choice to go against its cookie-cutter rivals from Toyota and Honda.
I've always identified the Galant as my father's car. And now that I'm a father myself I could see why he liked it so much. If my father's still alive, he would no doubt look beyond the Galant's conservative styling and consider the total package. And with what the 2010 Galant SE has to offer for its price, I'm sure the financial manager in him would be pleased with what he would get.