Mitsubishi Australia has launched what many local industry observers regards as the brand’s make-or-break model Down Under, at least as far as local manufacturing goes.

The 380 will look familiar to Americans – it is the US market Galant with minor styling and trim tweaks; the grille and tail lights are the most obvious changes while the bonnet (hood), front guards, body strength and dust sealing also received attention.

Mitsubishi Australia has spent $A600 million developing the car for local production and claims to have developed a new large car “that truly reflects the needs of the Australian buying public”.

However, local observers have already questioned the wisdom of launching a 3.8-litre V6-powered large sedan at a time when both petrol prices and sales of smaller cars are on the up Down Under.

The 380 has the same 3.8 litre 24-valve SOHC V6 engine as the American Galant which, in Australian specification, develops 175kW of power at 5250rpm, and 343Nm of torque at 4000rpm.

Mitsubishi Australia has, initially at least, decided not to offer the 2.4-litre four cylinder motor available in the US.

“The 3.8 litre engine has been specifically developed to provide the power and torque demanded by Australian drivers – be it for covering the long distances between remote towns effortlessly, or for towing loads. It is the first Australian manufactured car to be Euro3 compliant, and it also meets the new, more stringent drive-by noise regulations,” the launch press kit states.

Transmissions are five-speed manual or INVECS II ‘Smart Logic’ automatic with ‘Sports Mode’ sequential mode available across the range.

Australian buyers have thethe choice of either of two ‘luxury’ trim levels (LS and LX) and a ‘sporty’ VRX. The range-topping GT combines features of both the luxury and sporty variants.

Graeme Roberts