Though some were apprehensive about the future of Mitsubishi in Australia when it ceased local production and discontinued the Mitsubishi 380, the Japanese marque continues to thrive here.
Mitsubishi Lancer has filled the slot left by the 380, and the Mitsubishi Magna before it, and though smaller than them, frequently meets the needs of those downsizing their family cars. Unless the kids are large teenagers Lancer owners tell us their cars are large enough suit their needs.
Explore the 2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Range
Lancer’s body styling steers clear of the mainstream in this class and the Mitsubishi stylists have given it a heavily sculpted nose that slants forwards rather than backwards.
A neat lower air dam and bold bonnet creases that flow into the A-pillars give it a neat and purposeful look. The angles of the tail-lights add to the stance. The squared off shape of the rear bumper and the way it tapers around visually shortens the overhang.
Inside, the double-domed binnacle and deep dial cluster work well both from an aesthetic and ergonomic point of view. The dash trim has a soft touch that gives it a feeling of substance, again making it feel like a larger more upmarket car than it really is. Which is another feature that received positive comments from owners and backs up their statements that the Lancer can be used as a replacement for the Mitsubishi 380.
The cabin has plenty of stowage areas for the bottles, mobile phones and assorted bits and pieces we all tend to carry around these days.
The Lancer VRX that was our test car for the last week has the convenience of has Bluetooth, steering wheel controls and a smart key.
The boot can take a handy amount of luggage and it can be expanded by flipping down the split-fold rear seats. These are fitted across the complete Lancer range. As well as the sedan we tested, Mitsubishi Lancer is also offered as a stylish hatchback. Though the hatch works well, many buyers are opting for the sedan.
Stability and traction controls were specified by Mitsubishi Australia as standard in the Lancer for quite some time before they became mandatory in this country.
Typically the Lancer’s engine will use about seven to nine litres per hundred kilometres on motorways and in gentle cruising on flattish roads. Around town this is likely to rise to nine to eleven litres per hundred. These are good numbers for a mid-sized family car with good interior volume.
The manual gearbox felt a bit on the notchy side at first, but we found that we soon settled into its way of doing things and liked the sporting feeling. There's also the option of a continuously variable transmission (CVT). The latter can be an acquired taste, but once you’re used to its different operation most owners soon cease to notice its peculiarities.
The Lancer sits confidently flat when you drive it around corners with a bit of verve. However, there is a less than compliant ride at times when you hit rough bush roads. The firmish suspension won’t please everybody so try to take one for a decent test drive on suitable roads to see what you think.
Steering is well-weighted and responsive and driving enthusiasts will enjoy the experience in what is after all a practical family sedan.
Those who love to drive will appreciate the control the suspension offers and, while you really wouldn't call it a sports sedan, it comes closer than you might expect.
Mitsubishi’s Lancer is built to a high quality in Japan and has earned a well deserved reputation for flawless running for year after year. While not the most exciting car on the road it fills the needs of family car drivers. It is well priced and in this hard fought segment of the market it holds its own nicely.