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Mitsubishi 380 LX
road test


Much better than expected!

Let me ask a question. What is your perception of the new Mitsubishi 380?

Rather than hiding it, I'll disclose my inner most thoughts. Prior to the release of the 380 I began to suspect the new car would not be a car that would excite many people. This perception was based on the snippets of news that were being whispered in the back rooms. The biggest hurdle for me to tackle was the fact that prior to its release, it was becoming increasingly obvious that the basis of the new car would be the Mitsubishi Galant, a car which was released in America some 2 years earlier.

But, as it appears, there was never going to be any reason to be concerned. The moment I was away in the new 380 I soon realised that this new car is a good thing.

The test car was the LX version, which sits between the LS and GT in the range. That puts it second from the top of the line-up. That means expectations needed to be increased to be in tune with what one should expect from a car which has such status.

Let me tell you, the 380 made an immediate and a lasting impression. And it is a good impression. This front wheel drive car demonstrates that traction and steering was an important aspect of the new car.

www.nextcar.com.au (copyright image)

Mitsubishi 380 LX
Location: Brooklyn NSW

Click the image for a larger view

Once on the road, this car stuns you with its drivability. It is a particularly pleasing package with good ride and driving dynamics. The suspension, handling and steering are, indeed, quite suitable for this type of car. It is just the way it should be in a large car, that is just a little smaller than its immediate competitors. The comfort level is, also, noteworthy. Yes, the 380 LX was a very pleasing drive. It is clear that Mitsubishi got it right and my original perception was wrong. As it turns out, I was most certainly wrong, very wrong. The control that the driver has over this car is admirable. The drivetrain is superb. The 3.8 litre V6 engine provides good power and the 5-speed automatic transmission is smooth enough not to be a distraction during gearchanges. It is so good behind the wheel that the 380 was a serious contender for our "Top Drive of 2005" nomination!

The name '380' doesn't mean a great deal to me. Perhaps that is based on the fact that I considered Magna was a suitable name. But maybe Mitsubishi considers it is a numbers game!

www.nextcar.com.au (copyright image)

Mitsubishi 380 LX
Location: Brooklyn NSW

Click the image for a larger view

The 380 range starts with a base model, known simply as 380, which is available as a manual or automatic. Then its the VR-X (available as a manual or automatic) which I suspect may be of great interest to many private buyers because of the 'touches' which come with this sporty version. Then there is the 380 LS (automatic only). Above these models, the LX and GT (auto only) models complete the reasonably wide selection of models. There is no talk of wagons or AWD models at this point.

Prices range from $34,490 (RRP) to $47,990 (RRP) without options for the models in the Mitsubishi 380 range.

The 380 LX, the subject of our driving experience, is currently priced at $46,490 (RRP) without options.

The 380 LX comes complete with very comfortable leather seating. There is a memory setting for 3 positions on the driver's seat, power operated seats up front, sunroof (does anyone want a sunroof these days?), 17" alloy wheels, sports suspension (this is a nice touch), strut tower brace (good move Mitsubishi), 4 airbags, 6-disc in-dash CD player and leather-wrapped steering wheel, handbrake lever and gearshift knob.

The comfort and driving manners make the 380 a desirable package. It rates as equal best in its class as far as driving and comfort goes. Considering that the styling of the Commodore is now looking a little stale, then its easy to see that, in fact, it is the 380 that would get the nod if I were putting my money on the line!

What is it with perceptions? Sometimes they are correct, sometimes they are not!

Stephen Walker
6th February, 2006

www.nextcar.com.au (copyright image)

Mitsubishi 380 LX
Location: Brooklyn NSW

Click the image for a larger view



Mitsubishi news: here.





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