What's it about?
Now in its tenth generation, the "regular" Mitsubishi Lancer has always been significantly overshadowed by its fire-breathing Evolution siblings. We took to the road in a humble little 2.0-litre Mitsubishi Lancer to see if the "other side of Evo" is really that uninspiring.
Make no mistake, compared with its previous iteration, this thing is a supermodel. Curves in all the right places, a strong profile, distinctive styling with a very imposing front end and equally imposing taut rear - what more could a girl ask for?
However, at first glance this is anything but a girl's car.
It provides the basis for the always dangerous Evolution models. That has to be a good thing, right?
Perhaps the most astounding feature on this car is its price. Although very little separates the 1.5 from the 2.0-litre, the biggest thing is that either of them could be parking off at your front door without even touching the psychological barrier of R200 000. The 2.0 GLS tested costs R185 000.
While you certainly should not expect the world from a car costing just this much, this car - considering there is only one specification level on offer - is packed with standard features.
The list is seemingly endless, ranging from those all-important satellite controls on the three-spoke leather steering wheel, automatic air conditioning, power windows all round, height adjustment for the driver's seat, four-speaker front loading audio system, high-mounted third brake light, sunvisor with vanity mirror for both front occupants and enough storage slots and bins to house a range of oddments.
On the safety front, the 2.0 GLS Lancer comes standard with ABS with EBD and dual stage airbags for the front occupants among other goodies.
Note too, that Lancer is not a small car. In fact, Mitsubishi boasts it has one of the longest overall lengths (4 570 mm) in the C-segment and the test units passenger leg and shoulder room, and luggage space, could back up these claims. The cabin is pleasantly spacious.
The only thing, and it's miniscule given the all-round package, is the quality of the materials used throughout the interior. Static electricity generated by the so-so seat upholstery had me yelping whenever I exited the cabin's confines, and the plastics used for the facia can only be described as "horribly hard".
But, as mentioned, its list of redeeming features is a lot more appealing even though panicked drivers may not be pleased by the presence of a space saving spare wheel in the boot recess.
For further peace of mind, a two-year/100 000 km warranty is standard, along with a five-year/100 000 km service plan. Services are required at 15 000-km intervals.
Under the bonnet
The top-of-the-range GLS uses the 4B11 all-alloy DOHC 16-valve 2.0-litre with MIVEC variable valve timing to produce 114 kW at 6 000 r/min and peak torque of 199 Nm ready at 4 250 r/min.
This engine uses an aluminium cylinder block and head, and the bore and stroke (that have both been tweaked to measure 86 mm) is said to contribute to a more free-revving engine.
And while this car is obviously not meant to be the boy-racer in the range - look to the Evo for that - according to Mitsubishi, figures also translate to a 0 - 100 km/h sprint time of 9.4 seconds and a top end of around 204 km/h.
This is channeled to the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox, which on our test unit offered determined shifts.
Driving the Lancer proved rather pleasurable. Ride quality was decent, with ample assistance from the tried McPherson strut and multi-link arrangement at the rear.
The system is similar to that seen on the previous generation model, although suspension travel has been increased to prevent unnecessary jarring on rough surfaces and new crossmembers at the front and rear allow for more control.
New anti-roll bars also assist with improving body control and the more enthusiastic driver is rewarded fairly predictable road manners and agility when required.
Steering feel through the rack-and-pinion hydraulic system was positive with reassuring stability at speed and ample support at parking speeds.
Stopping power is the domain of 15- and 14-inch discs at the front (ventilated) and rear respectively and feel through the centre pedal was reassuring.
The Mitsubishi Lancer is an extremely competent car on the road and certainly takes the fight to its more mainstream competitors in the appearance department.
But in the highly competitive C-segment, the Lancer offers a breath of fresh air. It's highly equipped, costs significantly less than its chief rivals, and has the backing of the extensive Mercedes-Benz network in South Africa.
However, South Africas numerous brand snobs may be oblivious to this although the imminent arrival of the Evo X halo model could help to place its lesser siblings more firmly on the map.
Back to the 2.0-litre, if you don't expect to be completely blown away, you will be rewarded with experiencing a capable family sedan that won't baulk at having to do the daily suburban plod. And sometimes, that's really all you need.
- You won't see it coming
- Great value offering
- You won't see it coming
- Some interior materials feel decidedly low-rent