There are still few Mitsubishi dealers across the country, as least compared to Mazda or Honda’s dealer network. So for now, the Lancer can’t come close to the Mazda3 and the Civic in terms of sales.
Still, the Lancer seems to distinguish itself and is one of the most noticeable compact sedans currently on the market. Mitsubishi’s strategy seems to work: produce a low-volume but high-impact, rally-inspired Lancer Evolution and give the mainstream models similar bodywork, and they have a greater chance of standing out on public streets.
The more practical Sportback was introduced last year, which obviously offers more cargo room than the Lancer sedan. It also rivals hatchbacks such as the Mazda3 Sport, the Subaru Impreza 5-door and the Volkswagen Golf, and bests them in cargo space with the rear seats folded. Seatback release pull handles are found on each side of the cargo area, which is a nice touch.
It also offers an equivalent amount of firepower, thanks to its 16-valve, 2.4-litre four that develops 168 horsepower and 167 pound-feet of torque. Mated to a 5-speed manual, the Sportback GTS scoots to 100 km/h in 8.4 seconds, which is a little slower than both the Mazda3 Sport GT and the Golf.
Truthfully, the Lancer’s engine doesn’t feel very rev-happy; it doesn’t pull on its leash when you take it for a walk like the Mazda or a MINI Cooper do. On the highway at 100 km/h, the tach needle is showing only 2,600 rpm.
The car’s steering is nicely weighted, as it provides just enough assistance in parking manoeuvres, but not too much boost during spirited driving, so the driver gets a good feel for the road. The suspension is, in my humble opinion, the best among compacts; the Lancer can show some pretty good moves, but under relaxed driving, it shows no sign of harshness or sloppiness. In terms of ride quality, Mitsubishi knows what they’re doing.
As for fuel economy, our average is 9.4 L/100 km, but we have to work hard to prevent it from rising, especially around town. When the Sportback was launched, Mitsubishi said they were also considering offering a cheaper SE trim with the 2.0-litre engine, and we’re still waiting for it.
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