The Mitsubishi Legnum was rolled out in 1996 as an addition to the Mitsubishi’s popular Galant series. Along with the eighth-generation Galant, Mitsubishi released the Legnum wagon as a companion car to expand its offerings. Though mainly popular in Japan, the car was exported to many international markets. Here, the car gained somewhat of a cult following due to its powerful turbocharged engine and stylish look. In 1996, the year of the Legnum’s release, it replaced the hatchback in Mitsubishi’s line-up. Despite being phased out in the United States in 2003, the Legnum continued to be sold internationally and here in Australia until the mid-2000s.
The Legnum offered the legendary power, control, and handling of the Mitsubishi Galant in an altogether different form. With five doors and plenty of boot space, the Legnum was marketed as a family car for those who didn’t want to sacrifice a sporty feel. Built by Ralliart Japan from 1996 on, the Legnum, as part of the eighth generation of Galants, was in fact the final VR-4 made by Mitsubishi.
The eighth-generation VR-4 was based on the V-6 Mitsubishi Galant, which was phased out in favour of the newer models. Rally-inspired, the VR-4s from Mitsubishi had some serious performance and grip on the road. In short, the Legnum shouldn’t be thrown into the ring with the other wagons out there. It goes above and beyond most family cars out there in terms of styling, performance, handling, and speed.
In 1999, the Legnum received a facelift, improving on the already considerable power and torque and redesigning the exterior and interior. The powerful VR-4 engine broke Japanese regulations on engine displacement and required Japanese owners to pay special yearly taxes to own the car. However, here in Australia, no such regulations existed, allowing owners to enjoy the power and control of Legnums for years.
In addition, the Legnum was not exported to Europe or North America. Despite this fact, grey market exports made their way to countries in these continents, and the Legnum developed a cult following abroad. In fact, there is an enthusiastic fan base for these cars in New Zealand, which didn’t receive imports of the Legnum throughout its production run. Many Legnums can be found and bought on the thriving used Mitsubishi market. For those looking for speed and power mixed with all the comforts and conveniences offered by a wagon, the Mitsubishi Legnum may be just the car for you.
The Legnum, along with the eighth-generation Galant, was outfitted with Mitsubishi’s range-topping VR-4 engine, a behemoth with an enlarged twin turbo 2.5L V-6. The small and efficient turbos were paired, with one on each cylinder bank of the engine. The engine also featured a lower compression rate, in addition to an improved oil system. With an impressive 206kW and torque of 367Nm, the engine under the Legnum’s bonnet certainly packed a punch.
The transmission was offered in both manual and automatic, and one trim offered a four-wheel drive option. A Super VR-4 version was briefly offered that had the same engine but some cosmetic alterations including a Momo steering wheel and Recaro front seats. With this powerful engine, the car could hit 240km/h if derestricted.
The Legnum offered its buyers an impressive standard kit that was a vast improvement over the kit offered in previous versions of the Mitsubishi Galant. The car came standard with air-conditioning as well as multiple airbags and a sophisticated anti-lock braking system that earned the Legnum wagon high safety marks. The optional kit also included an enormous sunroof and power folding mirrors.
The Legnum found competition in the form of the Holden Commodore, a car that featured a 6-cylinder 3.8L engine. It also competed with the Ford Falcon wagon, which boasted a 6-cylinder 4.0L engine. However, the Legnum outperformed both in terms of power and handling. As a result, the Legnum wagon holds much value on the used car market today.