IT may slot into the small car class, but there’s nothing diminutive about the new Mitsubishi Lancer.
The Japanese-built sedan is longer, wider and higher than the outgoing model and offers impressive cabin space.
There’s enough room, in fact, to potentially woo families with young children away from larger, traditional favourites.
A competitive starting price of $20,990, combined with good average fuel economy of around 8 litres per 100km, adds to the appeal.
Safety, too, is a key element with Mitsubishi offering Active Stability Control and Traction Control (ASTC) as a standard feature across its entire model range.
All Lancers also feature ABS with Electronic Brake Distribution and Brake Assist.
Entry level ES models receive standard SRS driver and passenger airbags and driver knee airbag with side and curtain airbags offered as an option. Other Lancer variants, including the mid-spec VR and plusher VRX variants, receive the full 7-airbag package as standard.
Conceived and developed at Mitsubishi Design in Europe, the latest Lancer takes it design cues from the Concept-Sportback and Concept-X show cars exhibited at the 2005 Frankfurt and Tokyo shows.
There’s no doubt it has a distinctive look, with its handsome nose, deep set “eyes’’ and low stance.
Inside, Lancer has a thoughtfully-designed cabin that is very easy to live with.
There’s ample head and leg room up front and plenty of space in the back seat. The only place where dimensions seem to have been crimped is the boot.
All models have the same power plant _ a new 2.0-litre dual overhead cam MIVEC four-cylinder engine that delivers 113kW of power @ 6000 rpm and 198 nm of torque at 4250 rpm. Performance is solid without being as dynamic as some rivals in the class.
The engine is mated to a standard 5-speed manual transmission or optional Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) with sport Model. The VRX model offers a unique paddle shift on the CVT transmission.
Lancer ES and VR models ride on standard 16-inch wheels (alloy on VR) and 205/60 R16 tyres, while the range-topping VRX throws in a special sport-tuned suspension package and 18-inch wheels with 215/45 R18 tyres.
The line-up delivers new levels of comfort and a host of standard features.
Even the base model is packed with creature comforts, including 3-way adjustable driver’s seat, central locking, front and rear power windows, 60-40 split fold rear seat, air-conditioning, FM/AM tuner with CD and MP3 compatibility, cruise control with steering mounted controls, as well as storage spaces and cup holders galore. Optional side and curtain airbags are available on the ES model.
The mid-range VR model includes the extra airbags, automatic headlights, rain sensing wipers, alloy wheels, front fog lights, lip spoiler, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and 6-CD stacker with remote steering mounted.
The sportiest choice is the range-topping VRX. For $28,990 you get the benefits of sport-tuned suspension, bigger brakes, front air dam, rear spoiler, 18-inch wheels, sport type front seats and fabric, unique panel and door trim, paddle shifts (CVT model only), smart Key entry and Bluetooth hands-free phone with steering wheel controls. Options include a sunroof, as well as a Rockford Fosgate Premium Audio System with 9 speakers.
The Lancers, which went on sale in October, are available in a wide-ranging palette of modern colours, including Effect Grey, Lightening Blue, Red, Black, Mystic Blue, Champagne, Cool Silver and White.
All attributes considered, the impressive new Mitsubishi is a must consider for those in the market for a small car big on style, safety and space.