Unless we're talking Evolution, when it comes to the standard edition Lancer, the excitement factor ranks high on level 'bleh'. It wasn't even the slower version of its turbocharged sibling, rather, a pitifully slow car in general, and to us, the kind nobody ever wanted when picking cars at the rental agency. With the '08 model Lancer, Mitsubishi is ready to change peoples' minds-and they will. Based on the'07 Outlander, this all-new Lancer sedan comes in three trim levels: the DE, ES and GTS, all powered by a 2.0L 4B11 four cylinder, MIVEC-equipped engine. It's a sporty ride that doesn't require you to fill up with the premium elixir but enjoys being driven in the high rpm range and screams nicely in all gears.
Out of the three variations, it's the GTS model you'll want most because it comes with standard features you can truly appreciate, namely, a more refined suspension and brakes (the same ones carried over from the Outlander). Those inept at driving stick can opt for the first-of-its-kind six-speed Sportronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) automatic. Operated by magnesium steering wheel paddle shifters, it gives the driver smoother shifting as it adapts to changing vehicle speeds; the CVT helps keep engine speeds at their peak level of efficiency while improving gas mileage and emissions. All GTS models get larger 18-inch wheels and four-wheel disc brakes. What's more, Mitsubishi's engineers have focused so much of their R&D into the Lancer, they've increased the torsional rigidity so that it's stiffer than the Evo IX!
The features for the GTS don't stop at performance-the standard model comes with a Bluetooth wireless interface (optional on the ES), giving you hands-free cellphone technology so you can keep your attention more focused on the road. There's an optional Navigation and Technology package, which gives you a space-age touchscreen head unit backed with a 30-gig hard drive navi system with more audio features than we had time to figure out. But trust us, it's very cool for a factory feature. The Navigation upgrade also uses the FAST key (Freehand Advanced Security Transmitter) entry system, which allows you to unlock the vehicle even if your remote's still in your pockets by grabbing onto any of the door handles or trunk. Additionally, there's the Sun and Sound package for the ES and GTS, which comes with a six month, prepaid SIRIUS subscription and a 650-watt Rockford Audio premium sound system.
With as many features as Mitsubishi's offering, it looks as if the true evolution of the Lancer has finally arrived.
That New Car Smell
'08 Mitsubishi Lancer
The Sticker Between $14-21k
Under The Hood 2.0L MIVEC inline four cylinder 4B11
The Power 152hp with 143lb-ft at 6,000rpm
Scale Tipping 2,922lb (DE), 2,944lb (ES), 3,032lb (GTS)
Layout front engine, front-wheel drive
Gearbox five-speed manual or CVT automatic with INVEC-III
Stiff Stuff MacPherson front strut with 20mm (DE and ES) or 21mm (GTS) front stabilizer bar; Multi-link rear with 18mm (ES) or 20mm (GTS) rear stabilizer bar
Rollers 16-inch steel wheels (DE) or aluminum alloys (ES) with 205/60R16 tires; 18-inch aluminum alloy (GTS) with 215/45R18 tires
STOPPERS front-ventilated disc brakes (DE, ES: 10.9-inch, GTS: 11.6-inch); rear drum (DE, ES) or solid disc (GTS)
At The Pump manual: 21/29 mpg (city/highway); CVT: 22/29 (city/highway)
The PacK Mazda3/6; Scion tC
Deep Thoughts Finally a Lancer that everyone can appreciate. But keep your eyes peeled; rumor has it that an AWD Ralliart version is in the works, utilizing the same drivetrain found on Mitsu's infamous Evo.