|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
However, when the Lancer EX first bowed into the market in 2008, fans suffered a heavy dose of sticker shock. Though it was featured and kitted to the brim (up to now, it’s the only compact car with 18-inch alloys as stock), the Lancer EX saw price tags north of P 1.1-million—making the venerable compact car out of financial reach by most working men’s standards. It took Mitsubishi Motors Philippines a further four years, but they delivered and created a Lancer EX that’s a spiritual successor to Lancers of yore: nicely featured, sharp looking, and above all, affordable. Meet the Lancer EX GLX.
The GLX may be the Lancer EX’s base trim, but don’t discount as a “fleet car special”. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. After all’s said and done, the GLX combines the best that the range-topping GTA model can provide at prices very close to sub-compact cars (read: P 855,000 for the A/T). From the outside, the GLX loses things like projector-type headlamps, front fog lamps, and so forth, but it nonetheless looks sleek and sharp. In fact, the bold lines and aggressive styling of the Lancer EX is accentuated even more because all the additional embellishments have been removed. Plus, Mitsubishi hasn’t forgotten that the Lancer EX appeals to the “porma” crowd, so despite being a base model, it still scores some style points courtesy of smoked headlamps (matching the tail lamps coincidentally) and 16-inch alloy wheels.
The same story applies to the Lancer EX GLX’s interior which removes all of the luxury trimmings. Don’t expect things like leather, chrome, or even the LED backlit gauges to make an appearance. What you do get is a roomy cabin fitting five full-grown adults. Plus, the interior is laid out in a very straight-forward and business-like manner, accentuated only by a matte carbon fiber trim running through the entire cabin. The steering wheel is nice and thick, and the seats are supportive and comfortable. Apart from a slight issue pertaining to the fit and finish of the radio panel, the GLX’s interior is exemplary given its affordable price tag.
Though the GLX’s interior feels like a blank canvas of sorts for potential aftermarket junkies, it does get some surprising features, some of which aren’t even found in higher priced cars. Standard on the GLX include things like a multi-function display nestled in-between the twin binnacles of the instrument cluster, a variable intermittent wiper, and even a full-featured multimedia system that incorporates DVD, MP3, and iPod capability. It has Bluetooth hands-free calling and if you splurge for the Micro SD-based map, it can even do GPS navigation. On the safety aspect, the GLX doesn’t cut corners: it has a full suite consisting of dual SRS airbags and anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution, and brake assist.
One of the biggest reasons for the Lancer EX’s price drop has to do with its powertrain. Before, the sole engine was the beefy 2.0-liter 4B11 engine. Now, the Lancer EX sees two engines based on variant. For the GLX, it receives a new 1.6-liter engine based off the 4A92. Designed with a lightweight aluminum block and equipped with Mitsubishi’s MIVEC valve timing technology, the GLX produces 117 horsepower and 154 Nm. On paper alone, these figures are pretty respectable, but on the road (where it counts), it feels even better. Thanks to a relatively flat torque curve, the GLX feels very peppy with surprising zing. Even when equipped with the 4-speed automatic (the GLX is also available with a 5-speed stick), it’s lively and responsive from a standstill. As the speeds built up however, the GLX noticeably loses steam. At any speed below 80 km/h, the Lancer EX is responsive but as it goes past that, it feels like its hit a brick wall. Admittedly the engine sounds rather “boomy” on almost all rev ranges making this car feel less than refined. Still, you cannot discount the good city fuel economy figures: 9.52 km/L compared to the GTA’s 7.8 km/L figure.
Despite losing the fat and low-profile tires of its higher spec brethren, the GLX is still a great car through corners. Equipped with four-wheel independent suspension, the GLX is stable and precise with minimal body roll. It rides more on the firm side, but not to the detriment of passenger comfort. It must be noted though that the GLX suffers from the same problem plaguing other Lancer EX models: a knocking sound from the rear suspension. The Lancer EX is equipped with a traditional hydraulic power assist steering (as opposed to an electric one), which equates to a heavy steering feel. Nonetheless, the steering is responsive and good for a small five-meter turning radius. Outward visibility is more or less good (the front area is excellent for “slotting” into traffic) except perhaps for the rear three quarters, where there’s a noticeable blind spot.
Priced at P 855,000, the Mitsubishi Lancer EX GLX goes back to the tried-and-tested formula that brought success to this legendary nameplate. As mentioned, it’s nicely featured, sharp looking, and affordable. With its new 1.6-liter models which also include the MX, the Lancer EX is on the right track to join its predecessors of being truly great “bang-for-the-buck” cars. Now, all it needs is a catchy nickname.