Mitsubishi has seen much coverage for its hot Lancer Evo X saloon, but lesser variants have arrived almost unnoticed. Ian Robertson tests the new Sportback
Mention the Mitsubishi Lancer, and most people will conjure up images of Evo’s – most probably in rally spec. But that isn’t the whole story, as away from all the highperformance razzmatazz, Mitsubishi has quietly slipped the new five-door Sportback version into the line-up. While the tenth generation Evo features a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine with power outputs anywhere from 295bhp upwards, the more sober turbodiesel makes do with 138bhp.
Stepping into the cabin, the design is relatively stylish with sensibly placed controls. Fit and finish is good, but Mitsubishi still has something to learn about soft-touch materials, as the dashboard features swathes of hard plastics, albeit feeling sturdy and built to last. There are plenty of cubby holes, which are well thought out. Headroom feels a bit restricted in the front, though rear passengers will find plenty of knee and head room. Boot space is no better or worse than the opposition, but is on the shallow side.
When Mitsubishi decided on a diesel variant of the Lancer, it chose the well respected Volkswagen pumpe düse unit. Sadly, this isn’t one of the best applications of the engine, with too much noise entering the cabin. That, coupled with high levels of road noise, courtesy of the large 18-inch alloy wheels, doesn’t make for a particularly peaceful drive. Outright performance is eager, but the engine feels distinctly lacklustre until the turbocharger is spinning, and both handling and ride comfort are only average.
With most buyers wanting to keep a handle on finances, the purchase price is keen at £17,149, but this is only part of the story. With vehicle excise duty being more closely linked to CO2 emissions, it is disappointing that the Lancer develops 173g/km of CO2. This is considerably more than the same engine installed in the last generation Volkswagen Golf, which developed just 145g/km. Similarly, on the combined cycle, the Mitsubishi achieves just 43.5mpg, whereas the Volkswagen betters the figure by over 15 per cent at 51.4mpg. Where the Lancer really scores is in its generous equipment levels.
Compared to an equivalent specification Focus or Astra, you would be looking at another couple of grand. Equipment normally reserved for top-flight versions is fitted, with a knee airbag, climate control, power fold door mirrors, privacy glass, front fog lamps and cruise control all fitted as standard. For audio lovers, an iPod port and MP3 functionality is part of the goodie count, as well as 18-inch alloy wheels and sports suspension for style gurus.
RIVALS: HONDA CIVIC SPORT 2.2 i-CTDi, MAZDA3 2.2 SPORT DIESEL, SEAT LEON SPORT 2.0 TDI
- Engine: 1968cc, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel
- Gearbox: 6-speed manual
- Max Power: 138bhp at 4,000rpm
- Max Torque: 228lb ft at 1,750rpm
- Max Towing Weight: 1,400kg
- Combined Consumption: 43.5mpg
- CO2 Emissions (taxband): 173g/km (H)
- 0-62mph: 10.0secs
- Max speed: 127mph
- Insurance group: 8
Distinctive looks, high equipment levels, good value for money
High CO2 emissions, plenty of road noise from the 18-inch alloys, noisy engine