Car reviews - Mitsubishi - Lancer - GSR AWD sedan
Fun, fun, fun
Room for improvement
Can be a little expensive to run and maintain
20 Jun 2003
THE Mitsubishi Lancer GSR four-wheel drive was released in October, 1992, as the flagship of the new CC range of Lancers. The GSR immediately set a new benchmark for affordable sedan- based performance cars which was not matched until the Subaru Impreza WRX was released two years later.
Mitsubishi used the World Rally Championship as a showcase for its technology and the GSR was the production car platform from which the competition rally cars were derived. It incorporated all the basic ingredients - four-wheel drive, light weight and turbocharged engine - of a rally championship contender.
The Lancer was surprisingly well equipped for its price with power windows and mirrors, cruise control, central locking and a four-speaker AM/FM radio/cassette. The only option was air- conditioning.
The interior has good quality trim and there is enough head and knee room to carry four adults or five at a squeeze.
The 1.8-litre, four-cylinder engine was state of the art for the time. It has a twin cam, 16-valve cylinder head with electronic fuel-injection. A turbocharger and intercooler helped boost the power output to 141kW at 6000rpm.
One of the Lancer's strongest points is mid-range torque - it peaks at 249Nm at 3000rpm - which makes it a giant killer when it comes to intermediate and top gear acceleration.
This also makes it a practical and easy car to drive around town.
The performance comes at a cost - paid at the petrol bowser. In normal city and suburban driving conditions, fuel consumption will average a reasonable 10 to 13.0L/100km but driven hard the GSR can empty the 50-litre fuel tank in under 300km.
The transmission is a five-speed manual - no automatic was available - with a transfer box to drive the front and rear differentials.
The transfer box uses a viscous coupling to vary the torque split between the front and rear axles on slippery surfaces.
The cable-operated gearshift was originally notchier and more difficult to change gears than it should have been and there was some gear noise from the transfer box. Both of these were improved on later models.
The four-wheel drive and anti-lock brake system make for excellent primary safety with lots of grip when accelerating or braking.
The relatively soft suspension absorbs the bumps well and the ride quality is good. The handling is basically front-wheel drive understeer which makes the GSR vice free and simple and safe to drive.
The four-wheel drive system and turbocharged engine make the Lancer quite a complex car but it is still a lot more durable than turbo cars of the early 1980s.
Given reasonable treatment and regular service, the Lancer is reliable and not expensive to run.
The Lancer GSR combines four-door sedan practicality with performance at a price that is hard to beat.
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