2007 Mitsubishi 380 VRX Series III Review
The recently released Series III has made an already appealing package, even better.
Options fitted: Metallic Paint $350, Sunroof $2,000
- by Alborz Fallah
If you've bought a base model Commodore or Falcon in the last 12 months, I want you to tell me why. Apart from the rear-wheel-drive vs front-wheel-drive argument, you won't be able to convince me the other two are any better than Mitsubishi Australia's only child.
With the shrinking market for large family cars, Mitsubishi Australia - with a limited budget - has produced arguably the best car in the segment. Great reviews followed, but sales didn't eventuate as expected. So Mitsubishi has tried again, with the Series III.
The Series III update includes a rework of the car’s interior appointments, multiple external styling updates and specification upgrades.
After driving the 380 VRX around Brisbane for a week, I really do wonder why Mitsubishi, with the best warranty in the business, is struggling. Compared to the current VE Commodore, BF MKII Falcon and the Toyota Aurion, you would be hard pressed dismissing the Mitsu as inferior.
Just like Volvos, Mitsubishis had never inspired me (bar the Evo). The 380 was no different, it is after all, a generic family car. But after spending almost 2 months behind the wheel of the entire Mitsubishi lineup, I am starting to think a little differently. One broke down on the highway, one made me question my sexuality and one ended up with its own personalised photo, courtesy of Queensland police.
Driving out of Mitsubishi HQ and heading for Mt Glorious, one thing became obvious, the perception that the 380 is an inferior car is completely unjustified.
Even around the hardest bends, comfort is not sacrificed. With minimal body roll from one corner to another, the VRX's sports seats hold you tight. There is none of that 'hold on to the steering wheel' factor in this car.
From the outside, you can argue either way, while the 380 is designed to be a rather inoffensive and sedate car to appeal to the masses - a move away from the horrid last-generation Magna it replaced - it can still be better.
The VRX can do with sport pedals and something to replace the plastic gear stick, but as far as interior finish goes, there is no sign of the cheap and nasty Mitsubishi interiors of the past. Overall interior refinement compares favourably with its rivals.
Toyota's Aurion Sportivo SX6 is $500 cheaper than the VRX, the six-speed auto Falcon XR6 retails for $1,000 more and the five-speed auto VE Commodore SV6 sits a further $1,000 above the Falcon, so the choice is not as easy as it seems.
If you were going for an entry model family car, there is no question the 380 ES is the pick, your only dilemma would be lack of ESC (which is the 380's weakest link), but once you start going up towards the VRX price, the Mitsu starts to lose a bit of its appeal.
Given the current Falcon is about to be replaced, the choice is between the Aurion, 380 and Commodore and if reliability is a big deal, it comes down to the two Japanese rivals. From here its a personal choice. The Aurion lacks some soul and fails to inspire, but it is arguably the better built car overall, in saying that, I'd still buy the 380.
Mitsubishi 380 Spec Sheet