Graham Smith reviews the 2007 - 2014 Mitsubishi Lancer as a used buy.

Meet Mr Reliable. Mostly, anyway... The refreshed all-rounder followed a well-proven formula.

New

The Lancer has been with us forever; at least it feels that way. But unlike other long-lived models such as the Toyota Corolla, it has never really commanded the attention of buyers.

Those who have taken the trouble to find out mostly regard it as solid, well-built and reliable but it has tended to blend into the background rather than stand out from the crowd.

The CJ model arrived in 2007 with plenty of promise. Compared to the previous model it had fresh looks, a longer wheelbase and a wider track, more cabin space, and there was more equipment.

There were sedan and hatch body styles and range of models to suit most needs and desires.

With its clean and attractive looks, the CJ Lancer was engaging, even if the cabin was criticised for its blandness.

The everyday models (we'll overlook the hero sports models that appealed more to wannabe rally drivers) were the entry level ES, the VR mid-ranger and the sporty VR-X. The Aspire, Activ and SX came later.

With its clean and attractive looks, the CJ Lancer was engaging, even if the cabin was criticised for its blandness.

The 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine (113kW/198Nm) made it a solid performer in the class. For those wanting a little more zip, Mitsubishi added a 2.4-litre four (125kW/226Nm) in 2008.

The gearbox most buyers chose was the constantly variable transmission but there was a five-speed manual option.

The quirky CVT was not everyone's cup of tea but with its six-speed sports mode the Mitsubishi trannie didn't feel as soggy as some others.

Thanks to the larger footprint delivered by its longer wheelbase and wide track, the Lancer felt more stable and better balanced on the road than its predecessor. Inside, it was quieter and more comfortable.

Now

Apart from the CVT, the Lancer follows a well-proven formula. There's nothing terribly radical about it or cause for concern by potential used buyers.

Most owners we spoke to were eager to praise their cars, regarding them as well built and for the most part reliable.

One issue that should be of concern relates to the anti-lock brakes and results from the failure of the electronic module that controls the braking system.

Owners say their first indication was when the warning light on the dash began flickering. It eventually stayed on; the ABS was then not functioning.

There have been some recalls, mostly for electrical issues, so check the service book to see what work has been done.

Check with the seller about earlier issues with the brakes — and take note of the ABS warning light if it comes on while driving the car.

Another thing to focus on when testing a car is the operation of the CVT. Owners raised no issues with the gearbox, which suggests there are no problems with it but the history of such transmissions suggests that they are prone to driveability problems.

Check for shuddering on takeoff or when accelerating, hesitations or any other indication that something is awry.

Check for a service record to make sure that your potential purchase has been well maintained.

There have been some recalls, mostly for electrical issues, so check the service book to see what work has been done.