2008 Mitsubishi 380 GT Series III review
by Karl Peskett

2008 Mitsubishi 380 GT Series III review

CarAdvice rating:

Recommended Retail Price: $44,900.

Options Fitted: None fitted.

– by Karl Peskett

2008 Mitsubishi 380 GT Series III review
2008 Mitsubishi 380 GT Series III review
2008 Mitsubishi 380 GT Series III review
2008 Mitsubishi 380 GT Series III review

Close your eyes, and imagine you walk into a gigantic mansion with a view to buying. The staircase is perfectly formed. The tiles are expensive porcelain. The carpets are all plush, and the kitchen bench tops are carved from a single slab of marble. Sounds wonderful.

But as you look around, several details are awry. The paint is flaking. The chrome fittings are plastic, and have all come from Bunnings. The paintings on the walls look like kindergarten fingerwork, and the sculptures seem to be balls of plasticene thrown together.

Getting a mental picture? The foundation of the house is very good, but the final product is unresolved, like there wasn’t any money left to completely finish it off.

That’s what the 380 GT is like. Don’t get me wrong, what Mitsubishi has done with the little budget it had is impressive. To Australianise an essentially American car (the Galant) is no mean feat. But it would have helped to just finish it off a little more. Mitsubishi’s claim that the 380 range is “Australia’s Best Value Family Car” is reasonably accurate. But scrutinise individual models, particularly the more expensive ones, and it all gets a little muddy.

2008 Mitsubishi 380 GT Series III review
2008 Mitsubishi 380 GT Series III review

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You see, the 380 GT is essentially a decent car. It’s comfortable, roomy, screwed together well, and drives very nicely. But it’s not a standout or a benchmark in any one area. It’s just a car. Let me explain.

Take the interior for example. Since the body structure is very solid, the interior benefits from a decent fit. No wobbling, or groaning comes from the plastics. The satnav is very accurate, and the touch screen is a nice, er, touch. The instruments are clear and the increments are easy to discern. The chrome surround on the gear selector is nice too.

2008 Mitsubishi 380 GT Series III review
2008 Mitsubishi 380 GT Series III review
2008 Mitsubishi 380 GT Series III review
2008 Mitsubishi 380 GT Series III review

But look closer and you find some shortcomings. The dashboard is a messy cross-hatch surface that would look nicer finished in the same grain as the centre console armrest. The amount of differing textures and plastics used is over the top. The faux-woodgrain looks like the fur on a tabby cat. The leather that trims the seats isn’t soft enough, and the steering wheel is a bit too thin and slippery. A cheap 1980’s LCD clock sits atop the centre stack, where on the SX, you get a full-colour screen. Add all this to the fact that the sunroof mechanism, and the white grease that goes along with it, is all too visible. Things are looking bleak.

What saves the 380 GT is the way it drives. Fitted with the sports suspension (and even the standard tune), there’s little to fault the way it tackles Australian roads. Big hits are heard, but not really felt, as the springs and shockies have been tuned together. There’s no crash, and little float, yet the ride has a serene, plush quality about it.

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The chassis balance is also very good, putting some large imported front-wheel-drive setups to shame. Simply hurl the GT into a corner, and let the chassis sort it all out for you. In the dry, there’s the initial understeer, followed by a neutrality, which ends up with the tail following through. Sure, there’s a bit of tyre scrubbing, but this isn’t exactly an out-and-out sports car. It also gets the power to the ground fairly cleanly. In fact the GT name almost fits. But where’s the ESP on a $45,000 car? (I know, I know, it’s coming. Unfortunately, it’s a bit late…)

2008 Mitsubishi 380 GT Series III review
2008 Mitsubishi 380 GT Series III review

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The 380 GT’s engine is also a fine performer. The 175kW and 343Nm outputs might be eclipsed by its competitors, however in practise, the 380 makes good use of them. 0-100km/h is accomplished in the mid-7 second bracket, and the quarter mile in the high 15’s, which is on the pace as far as Australian built stuff goes. Quite linear in its delivery, the creamy 3.8-litre V6 is only a SOHC arrangement, yet doesn’t seem to lack any smoothness because of it. There’s an increase in pull from 4000rpm onwards, right when peak torque is produced, and it responds to throttle inputs immediately.

Couple that with the smooth, intuitive, 5-speed tiptronic automatic, and the drivetrain setup is the star of this car. Even fuel economy (listed at 10.8 litres/100km) is good for a vehicle of this size. You can also forget the whole big-cars-must-be-RWD argument, because the 380 kills that one.

2008 Mitsubishi 380 GT Series III review

Finished in a blazing red called “Molten”, this 380 GT is a decent looking car, if a little bland. The clear tail-lamp arrangement still looks like a Tupperware lunchbox, so it just doesn’t quite suit the image this car is trying to portray. Still, the fit of the panels is brilliant; Tonsley Park’s toy-tab assembly procedure is obviously working very well.

It’s a shame then that no one feature on the GT is so good that you’d immediately dismiss competitors out of hand. Well, there is one thing. Where the Mitsubishi 380 GT has the advantage is its warranty.

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You’d be hard pressed to find better backup than Mitsu’s 5-10 Warranty. This means 5 years, or 130,000km bumper to bumper (the entire car), and 10 years or 160,000km on the entire drivetrain. So there’s a peace of mind, to go along with your purchase.

Mitsubishi 380 GT

Engine: 3.8 litres
Power: 175kW
Torque: 343Nm

Length: 4855mm
Weight: 1685kg
Luggage capacity: 437l

Safety: ABS – front/side air bags – front seatbelt pre-tensioners and load limiters, traction control.

0-100: 7.6 secs
Top speed: N/A

ANCAP Rating: not tested

Wheels 17-inch
Turning Circle: 11.2m

Warranty: 5yr bumper to bumper/10yr drivetrain

Fuel tank: 67l itres

Fuel Consumption : 10.8 litres/100km

Fuel Type: 91 RON

  • http://www.caradvice.com.au tony

    Very accurate review – I couldn’t have said it better myself.
    I like the 380 – a lot. It’s more fun to drive than a Holden or Falcon and more efficient too. But it lacks visible character and a few little things – and we all know, when it comes down to the wire, its the little things that count!

    Mitsubishi are almost there – keep pushing I say. The Lancer is a dead set winner!

  • Nick

    Look I love the 380 but this is a perfectly true review of the GT. At SX and even VR-X level I don’t think you can do better but when you pay this much and get the same materials as the cheaper models just in different colours it all get s a bit murky. I love our 380 SX Platinum to death but if I was spending 45k+ I wouldn’t be looking at Australian cars at all. Holdens and Fords have the high end features and styling but they are built like crap and nothing works. And you also look like a tool driving a Calais or an HSV.

  • http://www.geardiary.com Mitchell Oke

    How would this compare to the 380 Platinum Series III which you can get for only $28990 driveaway?

    That includes a sunroof, 17″ alloys, bluetooth phone, and a stack of other stuff.

  • http://www.importjap.com/blog ImportJap

    There’s no way I’d spend 45k on this utterly stale SOHC V6 when I could buy the V8 Calais. Looking like a tool or not, the Calais is superior in every department, including chassis and most definitely interior appointments.

    This is not a radical enough enhancement of the base 380 to command the price. Sure the 380 has been a good car but it’s time for Mitsu to lift their game or do away with this car.

  • http://www.caradvice.com.au Karl Peskett

    Mitchell, the Platinum 380 is one of the best value brand new large car buys around. The same cannot be said of the 380 GT…

  • http://www.EvoXenthusiast.com JWFisher

    “To Australianise an essentially American car (the Galant)?”
    It’s sold here in the ‘states… barely. Nobody buys them… My local Mitsubishi dealer has none in stock. I’ve never even seen one here. I sure hope they didn’t design this car for us because we don’t like it. It’s a complete failure as a product, and by any measure it’s not much of a car. The Galant name doesn’t even have any market value here anymore… other than a handful of VR-4 AWD models a long time ago it never did. Like most of their lineup, it needs replacement if Mitsubishi is ever going to prosper again.

  • hire car driver

    For interstate work, we ordered a large hire car through one of the normal hire agencies – imagine our disbelief at being given a 380 as a ‘large’ car.

    It didn’t get any better, not only could we not fit the luggage of 3 people in the boot – this car has the turning cirle of the Titanic. I am not joking, I had to perform about ten 3-point-turns getting out of a Darling Harbour car park. Not only that, try doing a regular U-turn in traffic – you’ll need to reverse and correct the turn; holding up traffic as you do so.

    Learn from history what happened to the Captain of the Titanic – do not buy this boat! (or any other magna variant).

    I can’t believe Mitsubishi Australia tried to pass this car off as some sort of Australian design – it’s an old American base, and it’s rubbish.

  • Tonyn

    Can i tell you guys something, value for money this car cant be beaten, i think the car drives nice, is well appointed and not a bad looker.

    you guys will continue to bag this car yet continue to praise some of the crap other australian car manufacturers dish up. i would buy this car over an aurion any day!

  • Nick

    The funny thing is is that the 380 has a smaller turning circle than the Commodore and the Aurion!!!!!!!!!!! Check your facts.

    Also the 380 is 70% different from the Galant.

  • LargeBarge

    Hey Nick, I also have driven numerous commodores, 380s and falcons, I am yet to drive the Aurion. The claimed turning circle figure is outrageous.

    There is no way this car has a better turning circle than the commodore, at full lock the thing simply goes nowhere, the boot can not fit 3 suitcases and the rear seating position feels like you are on the floor. The fuel consumption is also on par with a commodore. At 28990 for the platinum the value is fantastic, and if your simply doing long ks I would highly reccomend this car but if you need to drive around the city get a mid sized car like the mondeo or the corolla. I hope I never have to drive one again!

  • Steven A

    This review is unfortunately mostly accurate but I must add that Mitsubishi’s Aussie engineer’s have done a brilliant job considering the very tight budget given and the truth of the matter is the 380 is a great car with the potential to be a brilliant car.
    Its too bad MMAL was forced from Japan HQ to adapt the US Galant on such a tight budget, keep in mind the 380 has won a number of prestigeous awards too.
    My brother in law very recently purchased a new Calais and he may have considered a 380 if all these little issue’s were addressed including the now “dufunct” Supercharched Ralliart version of this car.
    Ive owned Mitsubishi’s since the 1980’s and they have all been, in my experience very reliable cars and Ive steadily watched them improve with every generation.
    Personally if the 380 was more like the previous Magna/Verada, especially the quality of interior fitout, it would be back on my list for sure!.
    Lets hope the deserving 380 gets a “major” facelift in 2008.

  • Bubba Ganush

    the cheap 80s clock did it for me

  • No Name

    New name folks. prev Guy UK Boy.

    I remember this being released in Oz when I was I there. apparently it was to make or break Mistsu AU. Looks like break if Karl has his way.

  • http://www.geardiary.com Mitchell Oke

    That’s really just this version though. The GT looks like rubbish value for money, but the Series III Platinum version I mentioned earlier is exactly the opposite. It is astounding value for $28,990 DRIVEAWAY.

  • Duck

    Still cant compete against Commy!

  • Nick

    Commodore VE Omega turning circle: 11.4m (www.holden.com.au)
    380 turning circle: 11.2m (www.mitsubishi-motors.com.au)
    Toyota Aurion turning circle: 11m (www.toyota.com.au)
    Ford Falcon sedan turning circle: 11m (www.ford.com.au)

    Having driven all these cars I can vouch for these figures. The Commodore is a behemoth to drive. I felt so disconnected from the rest of the car and road.

    The 380 Series III sales have really picked up. It is a lovely car. It has got conservative timeless lines that may not turn heads but it won’t date. And if you think it is ugly and that is the reason it hasn’t sold well can I ask have you seen the last generation Camry? Ugliest car ever! Still plenty around.

  • Nick

    I also think the back seat is amazing comfortable! And while the boot may not be huge there is plenty of room for passengers and I love driving the 380 around town. It is a pleasure.

  • Andrew M

    as for value for money as mitchell says the commy doesnt even come close.

    yep the last camry was ugly and it sold…
    as for .2m turning circle is it that noticable? ive never done a direct test like that before. in that case wouldnt it make the 380 a bohemoth to drive compared to the falcon and aurion?

  • Duck

    Are you new to this site?
    And what 380 model do you own?

  • Duck

    What model of Mitsu 380 do you own?

  • Nick

    2006 SX Platinum.

    The problem with the VE is that you feel very far away from the car while driving it. That is what I meant by behemoth. It felt not disimilar (in that sense) to the last few Magna generations. I didn’t feel connected to the car or its dimensions.

  • Nick

    I am also by no means new to this site. As if it makes my points/opinions any more or less valid than anyone elses.

  • No Name

    Hey nick its the oldies on the website dictating. I 4 one appreciate your comments like others whether they are oldies or newbies

  • Lachlan

    well all i can say is, that i cant wait for the replacement model so you guys can get of this cars back and appreciate and respect the new models.

  • Fred

    The 380’s engine just doesn’t have the sophistication of the Aurion’s Dual VVTi, which yields better performance at .3 litre less. The Mitsu also loses out by one gear in the 5-speed auto (Toyota has 6), but at least it’s better than yesteryear 4-speeders from Ford and Holden.

    The 380 is a great car, but could simply be greater.

  • BK

    hey fred
    Ford gonna have the 6 speed auto as standard on new orion falcon. Now thats one box every car needs.

  • o

    get over holden buy a 407 a laguna or a C5 even a accoed a euro or a mazda6 outperforms these things

  • Watto_Cobra

    Fred, to elaborate, regular Falcons had 4-speed autos, which are still decent. FPVs come with the silky-smooth ZF 6-speed (which is also used on a $600,000 Bentley among other high-end cars) and that box could be optioned on the XR’s (maybe on other models, I don’t know).

    Borg-Warner have been sticking more cogs in their box lately, Orion base models will have 5 but more likely 6 gears. If you want a real box tho, ZF.

  • Watto_Cobra

    Also, ZF have produced a 7 and 8 speed auto which will likely end up in the FPV’s and XR’s.

  • Andrew M

    yes you can get the 6 speeder on all falcons (except for a few of the utes)

    7 and 8 speeders hey?
    that sounds alright but id hate to ever pay the bill to service one

  • Watto_Cobra

    Would servicing cost for 7 or 8 be much more than a ZF6 Andrew.M? I wouldn’t know. AFAIK it’s extra gears in the same casing.

    My brother-in-law has the ZF6 in his XR6. I’ve never experienced a better auto, it CAN NOT be called a “slushbox”.

  • Tony

    I think the 380 GTs are great,ive been looking at other cars and this car has everything,series 2 GT can be picked up at a good price also

  • John

    As soon as they released that ugly 380 I knew that would be the finish of Misubishi in Australia. A child could’ve designed a better looking car.

  • Daniel

    You do realize that you prob got that shitty clock cuz you got the version with the satnav which makes the interior look like crap and that yes the sx does come with the nice colour screen instead of the clock but so does the GT if you dont get that shitty looking satnav and it does have EBD you idiot

    do your research better next time fool

  • Mike Han

    Some like the 380 GT series 111 is a good vehicle. Where can one buy one that does not have a price tag of $44,000. It is a bit risky to pay that much considering the closure of Mitsubishi.

    Cheers Rasputin

  • Reality Czech

    Does anyone know what was changed on the 380 between Series 1,2 and 3? Anything worthwhile or just cosmetics?

  • Duck

    Mainly cosmetics, grill etc.

  • Duck

    Depends what car of the 380 you want to buy.

  • Duck

    I also know that the 3 series range you get the extra added equipment over the 1 and 2 series such as new alloy designs, new paints to choose from and different interior trim.

  • Shane

    It’s such a pity the 380 failed to sell. I have a Series 3 ES Sports – it’s a superbly engineered & refined car (and streets ahead of Aurion,VE Holden & Falcon all of which I have driven). I admit that the appearance inside and out could have been more exciting.
    The Series 3 Platinum remains great value if you can get one in the next week or two.

  • Duck

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^How is it streets ahead of Commodore, Falcon and Aurion?

  • http://Caradvice.com.au Caine

    Guys, agreed that the GT isn’t worth the 45k, however I have just purchased a DB Series II GT (Apr 07) for $26,000 drive away from a dealer – and I am extremely happy. The way I see it is that the GT has done most of it’s depreciating and now is a great car – with only 28,000 k’s on it to drive around. It is an absolute joy to drive around and has plenty of grunt when required. This coming from a Subaru WRX convert – my previous car a MY04 and prior to this a MY97. Good all round car with supreme comfort.

  • JT

    Caine, maximum rate of depreciation occurs during the first three years. Unfortunately mitsubishi’s rate poorly when it comes to this. By 2009 you will be struggling to get half of what you paid for it.

  • Zed

    One thing is for sure, Mitsubishi management saw the future much clearer than Holden or Ford.

    They quit a hopeless aussie market while they could still sell bits of it.

    Look what’s happening in the US.

    The yankee car makers GM and Ford are bleeding money.

    Dare I say that noone wants their UGLY cars with awful boots, turning circles and fuel consumption…

  • http://jhames_07@yahoo.com jhones

    hey guys…just want to let you know that holden and ford cars is bloody thirsty..i like ford compared to holden cars..but my favorite is 380sx 2007 model…the ride quality is great almost perpect even theres no ESC but the 380 platform is the best compare to holden and ford xt..for me ford and holden are wasting gasoline..

  • http://jhones_07@yahoo.com jhones

    380 sx is great car quality built is fantastic….

  • Boydy

    Well i purchased a 2007 MITSUBISHI 380 DB Series III SX with 21,00k’s on the clock for $15,500 in Bris as a second car to my 07 VE OMEGA.
    The 380 is a winner all round, I love to drive it & it certainly does everything it is supposed to,,and it does them all very well. It has plenty of power, speed, handling & comfort with economy to boot.

    OK it aint the prettiest car on the outside (but it’s not ugly either)and the inside maybe a little under done & bland but everything works & it is very comfortable to drive or to be a passenger.

    I do not think the Omega is as well appointed on the inside as the 380,it is plain and the Holden exterior is a drab fat bottomed girl. I thought that the Omega shape would grow on me but it hasn’t & I honestly prefer the 380.
    The Ford Falcon is the sweetest on the inside but it suffers from aging exterior design also because it has basically been the same car since 99 with different headlights & rear end..
    A 2007 series 111 380 for $15,500,, how can it not be a good car? I can’t get the smile off my dial.

  • Boydy

    I should add that the the $15,500 price tag did not include on road costs (rego) & dealer charges. But even with these costs it is Still the best auto deal I have ever made.

    The 380 does not deserve the put downs and negative comments that some of you have given in your replies, it is a very decent car.If you actually owned one you would know what I mean.

  • APP

    Also recently purchased a Series III VRX in red, 28k, 14 months old! for 19k driveaway! with the factory 5 YEAR WARRANTY. Car is fantastic to look at and drive. Obviously, depresionaion has hit these hard, all the better for the used car buyer. If your in the market – give it a drive – will not dissapoint. Try and find better value?

    (Sorry if this sounds like an ad – I’m just proud owner!)

  • Megan

    Hi APP,
    I’m curiours as to how you came to the decision to purchase the VRX out of all the Series III models on offer? I’m looking to buy either a SIII VRX or GT but not sure which one would be the better pick. I would like to have a car that has bluetooth as I’m in sales and on the road, but I guess I can always get that installed myself? Also not sure about leather seats, I have a dog and children will be on the way within the next year or two. I totally agree with you. The 380 is an excellent option for the used car buyer. So many features, great warranty, they handle superbly and I think that they look great.

  • http://jhones_07@yahoo.org Ben

    Hi guys i cant believe i drove test my 380 series 3 sx model for 22 hours going to gold cost from melbourne.you know what nothings change the engine still smooth,punchy and very quite engine..380 platform are great inside interior is roomy..the body feeling strength…this is a great car 100 percent you will satisfied with the 380…

  • shaneo

    Have just purchased 380 mits sx series 3 39500k $17250 drive away Great car but if you want to convert to gas you have to put gas tank in spare tyre well. A cylinder won’t fit
    because of struts under the parcel shelf. Real bummer if you still want to carry spare wheel it will have to roll around in the boot

  • LeArn

    Hi all
    I’m seriously considering buying a 2008 380 GT Series 111 for $23,990. I’ve always been a fan of the 380’s but now that I can buy one I need to look ourtside my region and get it shipped in. For that price I’ll get new car warranty, 22,000ks and six months rego and CTP. Typical female I’m going on looks (yeah, I don’t understand the ugly tag) and the fact that my current car (1994 Magna SE, purchased 1996 $20K) has been a really reliable car (apart from the shitty deteriorating metallic paintwork, but has excellent mechanical fortitude) was such a step up from the previous car. and so will this one! Yes, I tend to hang onto cars for a while and have never bought new.
    What say you all in your wisdom?

    • trevor

      Thinking the same myself,this is the best time to purchase one of these great cars,very cheap for the quality
      I think these are one of the most underated cars around,there is a lot of nockers but only until they drive one

      Love that car

  • John

    OMG…..The rego number….I bought this exact car used in this review , second hand 5 months later for $22k

    It even has the sat nav option and tow bar…

    The reviewer was very unkind, these have proven to be an outstanding vehicle.

    Good for us that buy them cheap though.

  • John
  • roger

    I have a Series III GT 2007; this is a great car!! purchased for $23,000 with 3 years warranty remaining, cannot understand knockers.

  • FREE

    Shame they don’t make these any more.

    These were the best

  • http://jimo tezza

    The mitsubishi 380 is a fun car to drive and will put most comms and falcons in there place.. I have had my 380 4 the last 2 years its the vrx modle. only bad thing is turning cicle , cant see much wen backing up. the 380 is a strong car i am young so lets just say my 380 has been open up more then a fue time an neava had a prob and really dont htink i ever will……..