Mitsubishi Lancer first look

Published: 11 December 2006

Mitsubishi Lancer: the lowdown

Mitsubishi has unveiled its new Focus rival, the Lancer. Forget today’s budget special – the new Lancer is Mitsubishi’s pitch to move the Lancer upmarket, away from cheap ‘n’ cheereful Korean rivals and towards the mainstream heartland occupied by Ford and Vauxhall. Of course, most volume manufacturers make similar claims for new models, but Mitsubishi has some right to be optimistic. The new Lancer is bigger than before with more space than Astra and Golf rivals, and has a brace of sporty versions to appeal to performance fans. There’s also a sharper-suited new design, whose chrome-accented grille and wedgy headlamps will spread to future Mitsubishis. The Lancer will go on sale in the UK in autumn 2007 as a saloon only, limiting sales in hatch-mad Europe; the five-door won’t arrive until mid-2008 and there will be no estate this time round. However, the new high-performance Evo X will crown the Lancer family in 12 months’ time.

New Lancer: under the skin

In an age of global parts sharing, it’s little surprise that the new Lancer shares DNA with a burgeoning family of sister products. Mitsubishi’s aborted union with DaimlerChrysler means that its underpinnings are common to the Mitsubishi Outlander 4×4, as well as the Dodge Caliber family car and Jeep Compass. Don’t expect a Golf or Focus-rivalling drive, then. There’s no four-wheel drive on cooking versions of the Lancer, however. Buyers will be able to choose between three petrol engines – a 1.5, 2.4 and 2.0 turbo – plus a VW-supplied 2.0 diesel, all driving the front wheels. Prepare for some careful thought before picking the transmission option: buyers can choose between regular manual gearboxes, a CVT, a full auto and a twin-clutch automated manual like VW’s DSG option.

Will there be another Evo?

This is where the Lancer gets interesting. The saloon will spawn the tenth iteration of the Evo in autumn 2007 – and it’ll stay remarkably close to 2005’s Concept X concept pictured here. Sales should start late next year or early 2008 for around £30,000. Mitsubishi wants to inject some class to the Evo’s traditionally brash recipe. Expect a higher quality interior, rakish coupe looks and subtler aerodynamic aids mated to the usual nutter performance; exact technical details are unconfirmed, but you can expect a 2.0-litre turbo pushing out at least 280bhp through all four wheels. Come back to CAR Online on 18 December to see Mitsubishi’s new Evo concept, the Proto X, which is slated for launch at the Detroit Motor Show in January.

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, motoring news magnet