Lancer Saloon 2.0 DI-D GS4
new Lancer aims to boost
mid-range appeal by
giving you the look
fearsomely fast Evolution big
brother. But is there more to it
than just some slick styling?
THE ALL-NEW LANCER the tenth-generation, launched earlier this
year is currently available as a two-wheel drive, four-door saloon
although five-door Sportsback models will join the line-up in September (2008)
and, of course, the better-known, all-wheel drive Lancer Evolution X high-performance
models are already on sale and actively continuing their high-performance road
car and rallying heritage.
The Lancer range has prices starting from £12,499 for the forthcoming 1.5-litre
GSI 5-door a bit of a price hike from the outgoing saloon model, which
weighed in at around £10,000. Saloon models start at £14,999. Lancer Saloon
Evolution FQ variants with 300, 330 and 360bhp power outputs are priced from
£27,499 and go up to £37,999. Prices are still to be announced for the mid-range,
all-wheel drive Ralliart Sportback model that is to be introduced to bridge
the gap between the Evolution X and the rest of the range.
If the prices vary hugely, then so do the capabilities of the new generation
Lancer. Evolution models are legendary for their power, performance and pure
driving capabilities. Mainstream models, although they look very sporting, are
much less capable but, like all Mitsubishis, they are soundly engineered, covered
by long warranties and seem totally dependable.
Because of higher diesel fuel prices over petrol nobody, at this stage, can
reliably estimate the sales split in the UK as to which engine options will
prove most popular. Traditionally five-door hatchbacks, or Sportback as Mitsubishi
calls theirs, will be the best seller. Mitsubishi estimate that 50 per cent
of Lancer sales will go to conquest customers, 24 per cent of all sales will
be saloon models, 70 per cent Sportback and six per cent Evolution versions.
Their positioning is aimed to offer the mainstream Lancer models at Mazda 3
prices but with the aspirational values of a Volvo S40. Residual values are
forecast to improve for the new range at 37 per cent after three years
just behind the Honda Civic but ahead of the Mazda 3 and Ford Focus.
Unlike Ford who have upper and lower medium sector passenger models (Focus
and Ford Mondeo) Mitsubishi's new Lancer line-up has to fit all requirements.
The two body styles help, as does the wide range of trim and equipment levels
and engine options.
So what, exactly, are the options? The Lancer four-door saloons are available
with the choice of 1.8-litre petrol and 2.0-litre DI-D diesel engines with the
petrol version also available with a CVT-type automatic transmission. The Sportback
range offers the same engine options with the addition of a 1.5-litre petrol
unit (manual or auto transmissions). When it comes to trim levels there are
four: called, logically: GS1, GS2, GS3 and GS4. Availability depends on the
Even the entry-level GS1 specification is pretty high, with a rear spoiler,
front air-dams and side body skirts (to give all Lancers the 'Evolution' look),
front and rear electric windows, air conditioning, front side and knee airbags,
electrically-operated door mirrors, remote door locking with alarm and immobiliser
and stereo radio/CD player with MP3 compatibility.
Going up the scale, my test car the Lancer 2.0 DI-D saloon had
a six-speed manual transmission, 18-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, cruise
control, stability and traction control, privacy glass, climate-controlled air
conditioning, sports suspension, pan-European satellite navigation, heated front
seats, leather upholstery and an advanced vehicle information system. The price
for this diesel model is a hefty £18,499 so, unless owners will be covering
really high annual mileages and fuel economy is a major issue, the Lancer 1.8-litre
petrol GS4 model priced at £16,999 is going to be the best buy.
It is interesting to note that Lancer saloon and Sportback body styles are exactly
the same price.
It's the styling that really sets the new Lancer apart from its many rivals.
With its 'jet-fighter' grille and 'chopped' rear-end, the standard cars have
taken on the Evolution X sports styling themes. They have a broad muscular stance;
a longer wheelbase than Lancers of old; there is a wedge side profile and, add
the side skirt, big alloys and rear spoiler, and even the most lowly new Lancer
looks pretty good. More importantly for customers, it looks an expensive car
with lots of road presence. The new Lancer, incidentally, uses a 'global' platform
shared by such companies as Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Hyundai and Kia and it is
the same as found beneath the Mitsubishi Outlander.
Looks alone should sell the Lancer to any driver wanting a family car with Evo
styling, yet at a more affordable price and with the performance to use day-in
and day-out as a business or family car. As we know, the Evolution models have
an awesome reputation for performance. The mainstream models are not in the
same league; more a case of style over function.
On 'my' 2.0-litre DI-D GS4 test car, the handling proved to be no better than
very average and the ride quality was poor due to the sports suspension and
the oversized 18-inch alloy wheels. The VW-sourced 138bhp turbodiesel engine
with intercooler is definitely 'old' tech with its Pumpe Duse fuel system rather
than the very latest direct-injection technology. It is noisy and not as smooth
as its rivals.
Power is delivered with a rush at the top end of the rev-range and it is not
as responsive or progressive in the low- and mid-speed ranges as one expects
from a modern-day turbodiesel unit. However, it is still relatively economical,
with a real-life 44.4mpg returned for typical day-to-day driving more
or less the same as the official figure of 44.8mpg. CO2 emissions are 165g/km
with a Band D road tax rating: £145 this year but £175 from next April
Although I haven't driven the 141bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine, I would suggest
that this will be best option for most people because of its much better driving
refinement. The downside to this unit is the official 36.7mpg and 183g/km, giving
it a £170 road tax rating. With the more price-friendly GS3 specification and
the 1.8-litre petrol engine, the Lancer saloon costs a very attractive £14,999:
£4,000 less than my test car. To sum up: not so impressive are the indifferent
driving qualities, jittery ride and road noise that make it difficult to believe
this is a sibling of the Lancer Evolution apart from the styling. On
the plus side: you get stylish and sporty good looks, a high specification,
a roomy interior, impeccable build quality and the petrol model is well priced.
Your call! David Miles
Mitsubishi Lancer Saloon 2.0 DI-D GS4 | £18,499
Maximum speed: 129mph | 0-62mph: 9.6 seconds
Overall test MPG: 44.4mpg | Power: 138bhp | Torque: 229lb ft
CO2 165g/km | VED Band B £145 | Insurance group 9E