The big bull nose could well belong to a bigger car, but it fits the front of the newest example of Mitsubishi's clear sales leader. The Lancer range has suffered from 'Blandsville styling' in the past, but this latest example, the VR, blows that memory away.
While the super-sports Evolution model won't be in Australia for a while, the real-world examples of the new sedan are quickly showing up on our roads.
There's good reason for that; it's a good little car, although little doesn't quite do it justice.
Explore the 2007 Mitsubishi Lancer range
At 4570mm long, it has grown by 100mm, the width is up to 1760mm, an increase of 65mm and height has increased by 60mm to 1490mm. The wheelbase has grown by 35mm, to 2635mm.
It also has added between 30kg and 60kg, depending on the model specification.
Nestled in the VR's black and silver interior, some of the plastics at first look a little on the cheap side, but at $25,290 this is not a bank-breaker by most standards.
The materials feel better than they look and despite the black/silver it's not dark and sombre.
Once under way, the Lancer continues to surprise.
The superseded model wasn't a bad car either, but the new edition feels a lot stronger in the body and it's quieter as well, with the loss of nearly half a litre in engine cubic capacity passing largely unnoticed.
The five-speed manual gearbox is teamed with a clutch pedal that requires a solid push, but has good feel.
The gearbox has a nice clean action and a good feel, without being too heavy or clunky. Preconceptions suggested another week in a shopping trolley but the Lancer is something of a surprise; it feels tight and is quite lively, not soft and 'doughy' like some of its opposition. The engine has dropped from a 115kW/220Nm 2.4-litre four-cylinder to two litres and offers 113kW and 198Nm, the latter at 4250rpm.
The output drop has failed to dampen the drive experience, as the engine is surprisingly flexible and willing to work. There's a decent amount of in-cabin room front and rear, although the driving position could benefit from reach adjustable steering.
With safety finally becoming more important in the purchase rationale, Lancer has plenty to offer; dual front, side, curtain and even a driver's knee airbag in the VR, along with the range-wide standard fitment of stability control. The features list also includes decent-strength climate control, handy automatic windscreen wipers and headlights, and an in-dash six-disc CD sound system with MP3 compatibility and six speakers.
The VR is a good compromise, able to complete the mundane daily tasks without feeling as though its incapable of other driving duties.