Mitsubishi Lancer LX vs Ford Focus Ambiente

18 November 2012

Mitsubishi Lancer LX vs Ford Focus Ambiente

Mitsubishi Lancer LX and Ford Focus Ambiente go head-to-head in this comparative review.

Value

Mitsubishi Lancer LX

from $19,990

Ambiente models have airconditioning, reach and rake adjustable steering, power windows, manual seat adjustment, cloth trim, 16-inch steel wheels, trip computer, steering wheel controls for the phone and sound system.

Ford Focus Ambiente

from $23,990

The LX offsets its age with an upgraded features list over the ES on which it is based, with climate control, Bluetooth (phone and audio link), a tilt-only leather-wrapped steering wheel, touchscreen sound system, reversing camera, rear parking sensors, 16-inch alloys, heated front seats and leather trim.

Design

Mitsubishi Lancer LX

One of the better-looking small cars in the segment, the Focus has a sharper, more modern flowing design theme. Ford says it has listened to customers about things like shifting the indicator stalk to the right-hand side -- well done, Ford -- but the dash switchgear layout feels fussy.  

Ford Focus Ambiente

Squared-off and squinting, the Lancer has carried the look for more than a few years and to some it's still a decent-looking vehicle. Inside it's an Essendon fan's paradise -- black and red dominate the comfortable cabin, which easily fits two adults and two children.

Technology

Mitsubishi Lancer LX

The Focus's 1.6-litre engine claims 92kW/159Nm with five-speed manual or six-speed double-clutcher. The base model includes SYNC infotainment connectivity, USB and auxiliary inputs, digital music player support, Bluetooth mobile phone integration with voice.  

Ford Focus Ambiente

The 2.0-litre alloy powerplant in the Lancer has the company's long-running MIVEC variable-timing and lift system for the intake side, producing 110kW/197Nm with five-speed manual or CVT auto. Other gizmo highlights include the touchscreen control for the audio and phone.

Safety

Mitsubishi Lancer LX

ANCAP awarded five stars on the Focus, given its six airbags (dual front, front-side and full-length curtain), anti-lock brakes (with brakeforce distribution, emergency stop flash and brake assist) and stability control. There's also a hill start assist.

Ford Focus Ambiente

Lancer was one of the first small cars to rate five stars with ANCAP -- it now has seven airbags, front, front-side, curtain and one for the driver's knee -- as well as stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes and emergency brake assist.

Driving

Mitsubishi Lancer LX

The little Ford lacks sports badging but sits nicely on the road, punting through bends on open roads better than the segment average, with a quiet and refined drivetrain as well. The 1.6 is no firecracker but it is more flexible than first impressions suggest.

Ford Focus Ambiente

Time in the little manual Lancer was far from the anticipated bland drive. The engine's lively, if not quite as refined or smooth as competitors. The five-speed manual is a reasonable gearbox. Ride quality in this kid-carter is reasonable, as is handling.

Verdict

Mitsubishi Lancer LX

20/25

Better luck
next time :(

Ford Focus Ambiente

17.5/25

Winner winner
chicken dinner!

The Mitsubishi Lancer, waiting for a successor, slugs it out while the Focus shows its refinement and chassis dynamics. The twin-clutch automated manual in the Ford clinches the deal over the Lancer's CVT.

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Written by

Stuart Martin

Published 18 November 2012

Published In

Head to Head

We compare, head to head, two similar models of competing manufacturer cars. Which do we prefer? Why? Find out in CarsGuide's Head To Head showdowns.