May 8, 2004
Style is important to all car buyers, no matter who they are or how much they have to spend. It's one of the keys in decision-making and takes on even greater importance when the buyer is young and female. A clear illustration of the importance of styling is the Mitsubishi Lancer CC Coupe.
It was part of the Lancer family, which also included sedans and wagons, but it enjoyed an entirely different image to its less stylish cousins and appealed to a very different buyer. Take note of who drives Lancer coupes. They're young and going places.
The Lancer coupe had more credibility than the sedan and wagon, though it was still conservative in looks. But anyone who took a closer look found a real gem. The Lancer coupe was attractive, with its simple lines and clean shapes. Better still, it was very competent in most respects.
It took many road testers, many of whom had dismissed it before getting behind the wheel, by surprise. The CC Coupe was based on the CC platform, which was new for 1992.
At first glance its styling was described by some as coming from a jelly mould, but the more considered view was that it was clean and quite well styled for the market it was aimed at. Women, in particular, were drawn to the Lancer coupe. It looked fashionable without making a big statement.
There were two models, the GL and the GLXi. The GL had a frugal 1.5-litre single overhead camshaft four-cylinder engine. It had a single carburettor delivering the fuel and produced 65Kw at 6000rpm and 120Nm of torque.
Powering the GLXi was a 16-valve 1.8-litre single overhead camshaft engine that was fuel-injected and put out a respectable 86kW at 6000rpm and 161Nm at 4500rpm. Nothing remarkable, but in a car weighing 976kg, it was surprisingly willing.
When pushed, it would cover the standing quarter-mile in less than 17 seconds, a creditable time when lined up against other small cars. If there was a downside to the engine it was its harshness that set off a less than desirable cabin boom at high engine speed.
Transmission options were a three-speed auto and a five-speed manual in the GL, and a four-speed auto and five-speed manual in the GLXi. The autos were pleasant enough, and the manual had a reasonable shift and was well geared for the task.
Steering was initially manual rack and pinion, but power assistance was added during the model run. Brakes were a combination of disc front and drum rear, and the wheels were steel.
The GL had less attractive black bumpers, a mix of cloth and vinyl trim, AM/FM radio, carpets on the floor, clock, and an adjustable steering column. The GLXi was better equipped with cloth trim and cloth inserts in the doors. The driver's seat was height-adjustable and there was a remote boot release.
An upgrade in 1993 saw power steering become standard on the GLXi, but it was another two years before it became standard on the GL. A special-edition GL Limited Edition was released in 1995. Based on the GL, it had full wheel covers, colour-coded bumpers, rear spoiler, decals and four-speaker sound system.
Mechanics say they give little trouble, though it's important to change the cam timing belt as per Mitsubishi's recommendation of 90,000km. Generally the Lancer is a strong little car that stands up well in crash testing, making it a safe choice for young drivers. It is noisy inside, with lots of road and engine noise.
Smart and reliable little car – one for a young woman on the move.