1 Oct 2007
For a long time, the Mitsubishi Lancer has been known as the affordable small car.
Cheaper than the best cars in the class, the Lancer was liked by fleets but it triggered little emotion among private owners. That was the job of the Evo Lancer, which seemed so different it was hardly a Lancer at all.
In late 2007, the CJ Lancer arrived, and at last the small Mitsubishi sedan was fit to drag the Lancer nameplate out of the bargain basement.
Its more expensive price and higher specification – combined with an all-new platform and striking, Alfa-esque design – catapulted the Lancer up against the Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus and Mazda3.
And why not – this CJ series was a significantly better car than the model it replaced and came standard with electronic stability control, dual front airbags, a driver’s knee bag, and cruise control.
Motivating the CJ Lancer was a 2.0-litre MIVEC four-cylinder using variable valve timing for both intake and exhaust camshafts.
Thanks to its smaller capacity and some new lighter components, including a plastic intake manifold, this engine was 27kg lighter than the 2.4-litre unit it replaced.
It generated a healthy 113kW at 6000rpm and 198Nm of torque at 4250rpm, while returning 7.7L/100km.
A five-speed manual was the standard transmission on all CJ Lancer models, with the option of a continuously variable transmission (CVT) automatic.
The VRX automatic models were also fitted with gearshift paddles behind the steering wheel.
The CJ was built off the same base as the ZF Outlander and the platform has also been shared with a range of Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge products including the Caliber, Sebring, Avenger, Compass and Patriot.
It was 35mm longer, 65mm wider and 56 per cent stiffer in the body than the previous Lancer and the wheelbase and front and rear track also grew accordingly.
Conforming to small-car norms, the Lancer employed a MacPherson-type front suspension set-up, but redesigned with a higher roll centre and using some lighter components.
The rear suspension was a multi-link set-up with trailing arms.
The undisputed king of the Mitsubishi Lancer range is the iconic Evolution model.
Known affectionately as the Evo, it is a high-tech rally car that you can drive on the road. The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution was launched locally in July 2008.
The latest Evo model, the 10th iteration, is just as hard as the previous generation model but uses even more advanced technology to make it even quicker.
It now has ESC and side airbags for the first time as well as some comfort features that were not previously available.
Providing the firepower is a 2.0-litre in-line four-cylinder with 217kW and 366Nm of torque.
The standard gearbox is a five-speed manual, while a cutting-edge dual clutch automatic is available as an option.
In October 2008 Mitsubishi resurrected the spirit of the much-loved CC Lancer GSR turbo 4WD with the Ralliart.
Available in both four-door sedan and five-door Sportback versions of the CJ Lancer, the Ralliart competed against the Subaru Impreza WRX, as well as hot hatches such as the VW Golf GTI.
Mitsubishi based the Ralliart on the VRX body, meaning it used the standard Lancer structure that includes a split-fold rear seat instead of the beefed-up and braced Evo item.
Nevertheless, many (albeit-modified) Evo-X features were fitted to the Ralliart as standard, including its aluminium bonnet featuring an air scoop for the turbo, and the three-spoke steering wheel.
More importantly, a variation of the Evo-X’s new TC-SST Twin-Clutch Sport Shift Transmission and turbo-charged 4B11 1998cc 2.0-litre four-cylinder underscored the Ralliart’s performance aspirations.
This 98-RON premium unleaded petrol-powered twin-cam 16-valve unit, fitted with Mitsubishi’s MIVEC variable-valve timing device, had been detuned, with an emphasis on providing ample low-to mid-range torque.
Using a single-scroll rather than the Evo-X’s twin-scroll turbo-charger as well as a unique cooling and exhaust system set-up, the Ralliart engine delivered 177kW of power at 6000rpm and 343Nm of torque at 3000rpm to about 4750rpm (down from 217kW at 6500rpm and 366Nm at 3500rpm in the Evo-X).
The Ralliart could hit 100km/h in 7.1 seconds (Evo-X: 5.7s) on the way to a top speed of 220km/h (Evo-X: 242km/h), while its fuel consumption and emissions outputs were rated at 10.2 litres per 100km and 243 grams per kilometre.
In September 2009 Mitsubishi released its 2010 Lancer sedan and hatchback range in Australia, complete with interior and exterior cosmetic updates, more features and extra safety for no extra cost.
Technical upgrades for all models – including the Lancer ES, VR, VRX, Aspire and Ralliart – included an improved ETACS (Electronic Total Automobile Control) electronic stability control system and synchronised windscreen washers.
In addition, the entry-level Lancer ES gained a floor console box for extra storage, plus a cup-holder lid, while side and curtain airbags were available as an option.
The mid-range Lancer VR received a new chrome upper grille, 16-inch alloy wheels, cup-holder lid, leather-trimmed parking brake handle and a “revolutionary” insulated front windscreen to decrease road noise, while a Rockford Fosgate premium sound system was a new option.
The pseudo-sports VRX variant also scored the sound-deadening windscreen and leather parking brake trim, but also offered the premium Rockford Fosgate sound system as standard. Mitsubishi’s Multi Communication System (MMCS) was a new option.
The superior windscreen, leather handbrake cover, Rockford Fosgate head unit and MMCS were also added as standard to the luxury-spec Aspire, which also gained chromed exterior door-handles and the new option of a sunroof. Finally, while the Lancer Ralliart scored the upgraded windscreen and handbrake trim for MY2010, the premium sound system and MMCS were part of a new option package, which also included leather seat trim.
Shortly after announcing the 2010 upgrades, Mitsubishi decided to add side and curtain airbags to its entry-level ES Lancer sedan and hatchback, extending the life-saving equipment across the range.
In September 2010, the 2011 Lancer range was launched, including a new SX model, priced above theES base model and based on the specification of an ACTiV special-edition that was released in March and featuring a rear spoiler, 16-inch multi-spoke alloys and a leather-clad steering wheel with audio controls.
Range-wide upgrades included an updated brake assist system, an improved power window safety system, enhanced cabin sound insulation and the addition of a USB port, colour LCD display and welcome lights as standard.
Further, Bluetooth 2.0 wireless connectivity was offered as standard with the VR, VRX and Ralliart models, while i-Pod cables came with all variants when coupled with the MMCS driver interface.