Tell me your memories of the Mitsubishi Lancer, and I’ll have a good indication of how old you are. If you think the Box Type is the sexiest car ever made, you’re approaching middle age. If your favorite is the Pizza Pie, then you’ve settled down and gotten married. If your eyes mist over the L-Type, you’re probably reading this over a bowl of oatmeal and carrot juice.
Love or hate them, you can’t deny that each generation of the Lancer was quite distinct from its predecessor. The problem was in the 2000s, the Lancer was in danger of falling into irrelevance. It was becoming a “wannabe”—envious of the Corolla Altis’s refinement and the Civic’s continued sportiness. Add to those woes: an unforgettable face and narcoleptic driving matters, it became relegated to also-ran status.
And then the Lancer EX arrived. If you were born when it was first launched, you’d be celebrating your sixth birthday this year. If you were learning to drive then, you’d probably have a kid and a Montero Sport in the garage. Time is normally unkind to technology-driven products like cars, but the truth is, the Lancer EX seems to be an exception. Though Mitsubishi has said that this will be the last Lancer generation ever, it’s a fitting swansong; one that will always be remembered for setting trends rather than following them.
With this generation, Mitsubishi’s stylists wisely penned the high-performance Evolution first, then de-volved the standard Lancer EX from that. Previously, the lumpy standard model came first, then adding the fender bulges and rear wing produced the Evolution look (and countless body kits). The result of the new approach is a car that still manages to turn heads and gains nods of appreciation. That’s particularly true of the range-topping GT-A model which sports a chin spoiler, side skirts, and a huge rear wing.
The stance is undeniably a Lancer with its tail-up, nose-down stance. The beady stare contains HID main beams with steering wheel activated cornering lamps that help illuminate curves. The huge “fighter jet grille” is now gone, replaced by a simpler looking split grille. Though the aggressive has toned down considerably with this update, the new LED daytime running lights to manage to add a bit of character back. Over at the wheel wells, massive 18-inch wheels fill them out while at the back, there’s a trunk-mounting wing that looks like it’s been nicked from a Cessna.
The toned down aggressiveness seems to fit with the drivetrain which is a normally-aspirated 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. Fitted with MIVEC, the 4B11 engine’s output remains a competitive 150 horsepower and 197 Nm of torque (slightly lower due to Euro-4 compliance), but the overall character is subdued and almost apologetic. It pulls hard with a healthy dollop of torque being served at 3,000 rpm, but there’s just no hint of growl to match the sporty looks. It’s also not the most tractive or refined engine; it loses steam quite quickly as the revs climb up.
With the 5-speed manual biting the dust, the only transmission fitted to the engine is Mitsubishi’s INVECS-III Continuously Variable Transmission or CVT. Despite CVTs being quite notorious for sapping driving excitement, the Lancer EX’s gearbox is generally responsive for everyday use. The engine does need to spin constantly, filling the cabin with a sewing machine-like drone, but at least it feels quick on its feet. It’s only when being rushed that the engine’s power band coupled with the CVT’s shuffling of ratios that causes a feeling of lethargy. Thankfully, the magnesium paddle shifters do their job and can be accessed anytime even without touching the gear lever.
In terms of fuel consumption, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the decade-old Lancer EX drivetrain serves up so-so economy figures. It does 6.4 km/L (average speed 13 km/h). It eke out double digit figures (11.2 km/L), traffic must be extremely light (average speed 32 km/h).
Thanks to its sharp lines and truncated engines, the Lancer EX looks compact, but feels roomy inside. There’s comfortable space for two in the back (or three if you wish). The driver’s seat feels properly supportive, but on the negative side, the steering wheel doesn’t telescope—it adjusts for rake only. Despite that, the seating position is comfortable.
The all-black interior tends to look too serious, but it suits its sporty nature just fine. To liven things up a bit, there’s a nice printed piano black strip that spans the dashboard and continues along the door. And in a neat touch, the trim’s shape actually echoes the crease on the outer door. The integrated stereo with its bombastic Rockford-Fosgate speaker system is now gone and in its place is an AVT-sourced touchscreen unit. The wealth of infotainment options such as Bluetooth audio streaming, DVD playback, and GPS navigation, is offset by the laggy and sometimes unresponsive touchscreen.
Though the interior is largely untouched since the Lancer EX first launched, the 2017 update does see both upgraded (and curiously) downgraded bits. The build quality remains reasonably solid, though there’s not an ounce of soft-touch plastic anywhere. Surprisingly, there’s an unsightly panel gap that houses the AVT unit. It’s pretty hard to miss since you can actually put a finger nail in it. The best new addition is the twin deep-binnacle gauges. The full-colored LCD screen that sandwiches the tachometer and speedometer provides clear and concise information that’s a boon to the driver. There’s also a power moon roof and reversing camera added as well. Oddly though, this P 1.2-million compact loses something so common in compact cars nowadays: leather seats. Though there’s still leather on the steering wheel and shifter, the thrones are now covered in the same static-prone fabric seats found in the base GLX.
Single-handedly, the biggest surprise to the Lancer EX is served by how it behaves on the road. Despite a decade in, it still returns a sporty driving demeanor. It’s by no means top of its class, but it remains receptive to quick changes in direction. The hydraulic power steering is weighty (and quite sensitive to tire pressures, it would seem), but handling is secure. Despite the wide 215-mm tires, it does tend of torque steer, but otherwise, it finds its groove when on the move. Despite the 45-series rubber, bumps and unruly surfaces are tamed very well. The stiff chassis also prevents any quaking and uncomfortable motions due to pockmarked roads. The brakes are also firm and easy to modulate. And safety is still good with 7 airbags, ABS with EBD. The only thing lacking would be any sort of stability control.
Though the Lancer is ready to say goodbye to the world, at least it won’t be going out in a whimper. Every bit of the 2017 Lancer EX screams sports sedan, from the body trim to the huge wing that’s visible every time you glance rearward. Though newer competitors have flooded the market, make no mistake, it remains a surprisingly capable compact sedan considering its age. Though it’s let down a bit by its ho-hum drivetrain and hard interior plastics, it’s a fitting swansong to one of the most storied cars of the compact segment.
2017 Mitsubishi Lancer EX 2.0 GT-A
|Ownership||2017 Mitsubishi Lancer EX 2.0 GT-A CVT|
|Year Introduced||2007 (Refreshed: 2010, 2016)|
|Body Type||4-door sedan|
|Engine / Drive||F/F|
|Under the Hood|
|Layout / # of Cylinders||I4|
|BHP @ rpm||150 @ 6,000|
|Nm @ rpm||197 @ 4,200|
|Fuel / Min. Octane||Gasoline / ~91|
|Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed||6.4 km/L @ 13 km/h,
11.2 km/L @ 32 km/h
|Dimensions and Weights|
|Curb Weight (kg)||1,310|
|Suspension and Tires|
|Front Suspension||Independent, MacPherson Strut|
|Rear Suspension||Independent, Multi-Link|
|Front Brakes||Vented Disc|
|Tires||Yokohama Advan A10 215/45 R 18 W (f & r)|
|Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)||Yes|
|Traction / Stability Control||No|
|Parking Sensors||No, with Camera|
|Other Safety Features||Hill Start Assist|
|Headlights||HID, with Cornering Lamp|
|Fog Lamps||Yes, Front|
|Steering Wheel Adjust||Tilt|
|Steering Wheel Material||Leather|
|Folding Rear Seat||Yes, 60/40|
|Power Door Locks||Yes|
|# of Speakers||6|