The disastrous tsunami in Japan quite a few years back now, really impacted sections of that country’s motor industry. A knock-on effect years later is in evidence through the lack of new models and not enough research and development.
It couldn’t have been easy to make cars back then and for some time after.
A new model Mitsubishi’s Lancer should have surfaced a while back as the current car is probably the oldest new small car on the market.
It’s been around for yonks but Mitsubishi is keeping Lancer on the menu with a “better offer.”
You are getting more car for your money and a good case in point is the `new’ Sportback GSR - the only Sportback model available as of now.
The GSR’s looks are enhanced with a Ralliart style grille and body aero kit to the front, rear and sides.
It has cloth upholstered sports seats and in the case of the test CVT car, proper paddle shift fitted to the steering column rather than on the actual wheel. And they’re in aluminium, not plastic.
Throw in a reverse camera, Bluetooth connectivity for phone and audio, voice control of many functions, climate control privacy glass, smart key access, rain sensing wipers, auto headlights and a 6.1-inch info screen and you are talking a lot of kit for the money.
The interior is showing its age and is mostly hard plastic surfaces. The actual style is OK and is functional but the unyielding grey plastic dash is out of place against Lancer’s competition.
In practical terms it has a decent amount of interior room for four or five and a large boot. Some cabin storage is provided for drinks and oddments and the driving position is pretty good.
More load space is provided by folding the rear seats.
ENGINE / RANSMISSIONS
It gets a 2.4-litre petrol four cylinder engine that appeared quite a few years ago in a high end model that sold for about $33 grand or more. The Sportback GSR we drove last week goes for a much sharper $22,990 in five-speed manual form, $2300 more for the CVT auto.
The engine has variable valve timing called MIVEC that helps achieve 125kW/226Nm output.
The engine is/was used in a number of other Mitsubishi vehicles and is tried and true - same applies to the five-speed manual and the CVT auto.
But it isn’t the most frugal small car recording a combined average of 8.8-litres/100km. We got close to that figure.
Like all current Lancers, the GSR Sportback carries a maximum five star safety rating. Among the safety kit is dual front, side and head airbags, plus a driver knee airbag. Advanced front seat belt reminders, ABS, electronic brake distribution EBD and electronic stability control are also standard.
In this area the GSR is quite impressive thanks to the relatively high output engine and the size of the vehicle.
Acceleration is strong across the entire engine rev range and it never falls in a hole from a lack of grunt.
Fill the GSR with bods and their gear, crank up the aircon and it doesn’t completely gut the car’s performance as is the case elsewhere.
Dynamically the GSR is acceptable, not the sportiest thing on four wheels but a drive feel that is engaging enough for most.
The ride and handling package has a sporty flavour which means better driver engagement and a slightly firmer than normal ride.
A sport mode is provided for the CVT transmission which makes it function like a six-speed auto spinning right out through the gears.