Mitsubishi Lancer review (2000-2008)
The standard Lancer is a great family car.
Driving The Lancer doesn’t boast the tenacious grip of its illustrious Evo X brother, but the front-wheel-drive motor still has appeal. Engineers have tried hard to give the Lancer a sporty feel from behind the wheel, and the results are impressive. On twisting B-roads, the well balanced chassis and agile nature make it fun. It’s very sure-footed and there’s plenty of grip, while body roll is kept in check. However, the trade-off is a rather firm ride – though even this is far from crashy, and deals with rough surfaces competently. There are three engines, 1.5-litre and 1.8-litre petrols, plus the more impressive 2.0-litre Volkswagen-sourced diesel. This packs a strong punch and gives the Lancer decent pace – and, unlike with other Mitsubishis using this engine, it’s quiet on the move. Clatter and a lack of refinement aren’t an issue here. The five-speed gearbox, furthermore, is every bit as slick as the Evo’s six-speeder.
Marketplace Mitsubishi has high hopes for the latest Lancer. It wants the car to really challenge popular family models such as the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf – so is making the key step of offering it as a five-door hatch, alongside the familiar four-door saloon. Both versions share styling that borrows heavily from the sporty Evo, with aggressive features and sporty details. All models have stylish alloys and a rear spoiler, for example, while the grille is distinctive. Trim lines are logical, ranging from GS1 to GS4 versions, and all are really well-equipped. Mitsubishi says it was benchmarked against the Volvo S40, while other rivals include the Golf and Focus, Dodge Avenger, Chrysler Sebring, Chevrolet Epica and Skoda Octavia.
Owning The Lancer’s cabin is a hospitable place to spend time. Those familiar with older Lancers will find it much-improved, with excellent build quality and controls that are simple, attractive and well organised. Plastics are a little hard, but it’s all very well finished. The driving position is good, too, and there is decent room, especially for rear passengers. The saloon boot is commodious as well. Running costs should be competitive, mainly due to the low prices and reasonable fuel economy – Mitsubishi has also put in much work to reduce service costs and has stretched check-up intervals.