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Car reviews - Mitsubishi - Lancer - GL 5-dr hatch

Our Opinion

We like
Roomy, airy interior easy to drive and quite reliable
Room for improvement
A mediocre small car package overall

20 Jun 2003

THE Mitsubishi Lancer first made an impact on the Australian market with a series of remarkable victories in the Southern Cross International Rally between 1972 and 1976. London to Sydney Marathon winner Andrew Cowan was virtually unbeatable in the little cars which demonstrated impressive speed and reliability.

The Lancer went missing from the market for eight years in the 1980s but was re-introduced to Australia in 1989 as a fully imported model, then updated in September, 1990, in various levels of specification, ranging from the GL through the more luxurious GLX, very luxurious SE and the sporty SX.

The new Lancer was available in three-door hatch, five-door hatch and four-door sedan body styles, signifying a serious re-entry into the market by Mitsubishi.

Fitting into the Toyota Corolla/Mazda 323/Ford Laser/Honda Civic category of small family sedan or five-door hatch (with the three-door hatch for youthful or more sporty buyers), the Lancer is in a competitive market segment.

The GL is powered by a 1468cc carburettor engine driving the front wheels through a five-speed manual transmission. The GLX and SE models offer extra refinements with central locking and power steering standard on SE. The sporty SX has alloy wheels as standard.

The well proven Orion overhead cam engine is fed through a single twin-barrel down draught carburettor, giving 56kW of power at 5500rpm.

Road performance is excellent with the willing engine providing lively acceleration and excellent fuel economy. Maximum torque occurs at 3000rpm, giving the engine good flexibility in the mid range. City operation should see fuel consumption of about 8 litres per 100km with highway usage giving up to 6.5L/100km.

MacPherson strut front suspension and torsional beam axle at the rear give a smooth ride and precise handling. The car has a sure-footed feel, firmness and stability.

Power-assisted braking is by ventilated discs at the front and drums at the rear.

The steering is rack and pinion, with power-assistance optional on the GL, but standard on SE and SX versions. If possible, look for a car with power steering, which has the benefits of reduced parking effort and less front-wheel drive torque reaction feel.

Mitsubishi products enjoy a good reputation for strength and reliability. There are no consistent problems with the Lancer but always follow the golden rule of buying a car with a documented service history if possible.

With the re-introduction of the Lancer, Mitsubishi entered the marketplace head on with its Japanese rivals. Excellent build quality and good performance, ride and handling coupled with a well earned reputation for reliability make the Lancer a strong contender in its class.

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