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Mitsubishi Lancer 1.5 SE 4-door

Click to view picture galleryPriced at a very reasonable 12,499,
Mitsubishi’s new Lancer 1.5 SE
is cheap to run and excellent value
  for money, and comes with a high
  specification and stylish looks...”

THIS IS NO STRIPPED OUT, low specification model. It has four electric windows, central door locking, alarm, air conditioning and a good multi-speaker sound system plus an on-board computer, 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, side, curtain and driver's knee airbags, Bluetooth connectivity and steering wheel audio controls.

The four/five-seater model with a large boot and folding rear seats is sure to appeal to business user-choosers wanting to keep their Benefit-in-Kind tax penalties as low as possible as well as bargain-hunting retail buyers wanting a good value, relatively fuel efficient and well equipped and stylish car.

The Lancer was first introduced to the UK in 1974 and during that time it has, through its various generations, been the model that Mitsubishi has used for their world and national rallying activities. Today's Lancer sits between the C-segment (Focus/Astra/Golf size) and the D-sector, (Mondeo/Insignia/Passat) so it is more about being suitable for modern family and business use than emulating past World Rally Championship successes.

The newcomer is the same core car as Mitsubishi's famous Evolution X saloon models and we know that the new global platform used for the ninth generation Lancers is inherently very capable and very strong.

The latest Lancer is the largest and heaviest ever. The Lancer saloon is 4,570mm long, 1,760mm wide and weighs, depending on the model, between 1,250 and 1,450kg. Engine choices are 1.5 and 1.8-litre petrol and 2.0-litre DI-D diesel. Selling alongside the saloons is the five-door Sportback hatch. These are a little longer (4,585mm) and weigh up to 1,595kg, with 1.5, 1.8, 2.0-litre petrol and 2.0-litre DI-D diesel engines. Sportback prices start at 14,499. In addition to these, there is the latest all-wheel drive Lancer Evolution X saloon range with 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engines and power outputs ranging from 300 to 400bhp. Prices for these start at 29,499 and top-out at 51,499.

But this review, reflecting on the economic situation, is focussed on value-for-money in the form of the four-door Lancer saloon in 1.5-litre SE specification. A new car of this size with all the equipment listed above for just 12,499 is just right for today's cash-conscious market.

Add in the value of Mitsubishi's three-year unlimited mileage cover and their three-year, 37,500-mile Service Plan (which costs just 275), and it's clear that this model deserves to be taken seriously.

Excellent value for
stylish looks
high specification,
cheap to run and
a roomy and
comfortable interior
With the price of fuel escalating yet again, constant traffic congestion and speed cameras continuing to slow our progress, outright performance is becoming less and less important. The Lancer's 1.5-litre engine produces 107bhp and 105lb ft of torque, giving it a top speed of 119mph and 0-62mph acceleration of 11.6 seconds — it feels slower, but does that really matter? The engine can be noisy under hard acceleration and at higher cruising speeds; a six-speed gearbox rather than a five-speed unit would help this and also further improve fuel economy, but then the car would become more expensive.

Having got onto the subject of fuel consumption, my test car returned 40.8mpg for the week-long test period; pretty impressive for a hard-worked petrol unit. Officially, this engine in this body type should return 44.1mpg so I was pretty happy with my test result. The CO2 emissions are relatively high at 153g/km so the road tax costs 150 a year and for company car drivers the Benefit-in-Kind tax is 18%. Having said that, it is still one of the least costly Lancers to buy, run and tax and that includes the diesel versions.

So running costs are good, specification for the price is exceptional, the styling is smart, the traditional Lancer huge rear spoiler is not included in the SE specification so rear visibility is much improved, the car is roomy and has a big boot. It looks like a win-win product.

Unfortunately not; there are some drawbacks. The noise intrusion from the tyres is really pretty bad, the engine can sound stressed and some of the plastic interior trim looks cheap. Ride comfort is generally good but the suspension provides what I can only describe as a 'jiggly' ride and potholes unsettle the car's composure. But the Lancer saloon is well balanced with a weighty feel to the front-end and this provides good and predictable cornering grip.

In conclusion, the price is right, the equipment levels first class, it looks attractive, it's roomy and comfortable and has a long warranty with the option of a financially attractive Service Plan. It's also cheap to run (other Lancers are not) and so I think most real-life buyers might overlook the negative issues. Not convinced? Then consider the Scrappage Scheme offer: 10,499 for this Lancer Saloon 1.5 SE looks even better.
David Miles

Mitsubishi Lancer 1.5 SE 4-door
| 12,499
Maximum speed: 119mph | 0-62mph: 11.6 seconds | Overall MPG: 40.8mpg
Power: 107bhp | Torque: 105lb ft | CO2 153g/km | Insurance group 5