Most of the Lancers I see in Denmark are the estate version though I see few of those. This is the saloon which is much, much rarer indeed. Bentley rare, I’d say.
I walked around the car and decided it was a fair interpretation of the small saloon, something of a fetish for me, I think. The spoiler is a excessive though. Its presence there on the bootlid means it’s the warmest version short of the Evo model which has completely overshadowed Mitsubishi, a halo car that has turned into a blinding light.
Auto Express begin their analysis by saying that the standard car is not as good as the Evo: “The Mitsubishi Lancer Sport is not a patch on the Evo. However, if you can manage to banish all thoughts of the turbocharged flagship from your mind, the Sport remains a keenly priced and honest saloon. Its beefy bodykit will not be to everyone’s taste, but decent performance and a host of sporty extras should ensure that it continues to have plenty of appeal.”
Having done a small amount of reading, I got the impression that if it were not for the legendary capabilities of the Evo version, this car would have been thought to have been quite good. “When the road becomes twisty, the Lancer lives up to its name and delivers a surprisingly sporty experience. It lacks the composure and ability of a Ford Focus, but it’s eager to turn into bends and has plenty of grip. When you see the price, it makes even more sense: at £11,524, the Sport costs only £775 more than a 1.6 manual Lancer, and is £1,800 cheaper than a similarly equipped 1.8-litre Focus,” said Auto Express.
Honest John says it’s well put together and well equipped. The Sporting version had a 133 bhp, 2.0 motor which is quite a lot for a small car like this, I think. The RAC were impressed with the kit too and judge the car to be a fault-free design to boot. They went on to say: “Solely available with a five-speed manual gearbox, the Sport models will get to 60mph in 9.8 seconds and top out at 124mph. If you want to go quicker in a Lancer, the next step is an Evo with all its attendant high-maintenance issues. There’s a lot to be said for the Lancer. It’ll be brilliantly reliable, is very well screwed together and has been developed to a point whereby nothing about the car is intrinsically annoying or ill designed. The interior is neatly styled although some of the materials aren’t anything to write home about.”
The odd thing about these cars is that Mitsubishi didn’t sell them regularly. The 2005-2007 model years in the UK were covered by what were essentially over-stock from Japan, exported for sale at a comparatively low price. Mitsubishi were more interested in clearing the way for the next version and wanted a market to off-load the cars on.
Despite the low-key looks and utter lack of visibility, the dealers sell as many of these as they are allowed to have. There is a ready market for these kinds of marginal cars. Some people just love the reliability and maybe they just happen to live near a dealer so life is easier when it comes to servicing. The Lancer seems too good to be a commodity car. The interior looks comfortable and the general impression on gets is of a handy, durable and very useful small-ish car.
Yet here is it, a forgotten also-ran which in the hands of a firm with a sense for marketing would have been more than just a quick chance to reel in a few bonus customers.
You can see a trend in these “unforgetting” articles: Japanese and saloon are not a formula for setting people’s hearts on fire.