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Mitsu turns the corner: ESC is here for all new Lancers, and coming for 380.

Mitsubishi fits standard ESC across the new Lancer range, and confirms it for it 380

26 Sep 2007

MITSUBISHI is working to make the standard fitment of electronic stability control (ESC) a key plank of its brand in Australia after last week becoming the first market in the world to have the life-saving technology fitted standard across the new-generation Lancer small-car range.

ESC will also be added as standard to the Outlander SUV when it receives an upgrade later this year, and GoAuto can now reveal that a stability control system for the Australian-built 380 large car – which does not have ESC available, even as an option – is currently under development and should be fitted to the slow-selling family-car range before the middle of next year.

Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited president Robert McEniry told GoAuto last week that the fitment of ESC could not be fast-tracked because the field calibration work required was yet to be done by Mitsubishi engineers – not in Australia but in the northern hemisphere.

“The problem is that we are having to wait for it to be tested in the European winter,” he said. “There’s not much snow here as you can imagine. That work will be done through January and February, then there is the finetuning and issues of procurement.”Subaru raised the bar in the small-car class last month when it introduced the all-new Impreza hatch range with ESC fitted standard. However, its most affordable model starts from $24,490.

ESC is not offered with Australia’s biggest-selling small car, the Toyota Corolla, and is unlikely to be available within two years.

In the case of Lancer, the entry-level ES model variant will start from $20,990 when the CJ-series sedan hits the showrooms on October 1.

21 center imageFrom top: Lancer, 380 and Outlander (below).

The new Lancer’s “active stability control” system includes traction control, and is standard alongside ABS brakes (with electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist) and three airbags – dual-stage front driver and passenger airbags, plus a driver’s knee airbag.

A package containing front-side and curtain airbags will be available for $800 – almost half the price of the current CH model’s $1500 safety package, which comprises side and curtain airbags and applies across the range.

All seating positions have a three-point seatbelt and a height-adjustable head restraint – the latter is never a given – and the front seats include “active” anti-whiplash head restraints and belt force limiters and pretensioners.

The CJ Lancer has not yet been crash-tested under the independent Australian or European New Car Assessment Program, but Mitsubishi is confident its new model – built using an enhanced version of Mitsubishi’s RISE (reinforced impact safety evolution) body structure – will achieve the maximum five stars for adult occupant protection.

It should also score well on pedestrian safety considering the inclusion of an energy-absorbing bonnet, cowl, bumper, lower bumper and hood hinge structures.

Mr McEniry revealed to GoAuto that he was determined to introduce ESC as standard for the new small car, despite some pressure from fleets and dealers regarding a lower base price. The starting point on the less-well-equipped and soon-to-be-discontinued CH model is $1000 cheaper, at $19,990.

“There always is (pressure). From the perspective of dealers, they consider price points (as) pretty critical,” he said. “My philosophy since I have been here has been to put the focus on value rather than just pure price point.”Mr McEniry said making ESC standard was the best way to ensure its take-up given most small-car customers were not prepared to pay extra for the safety technology.

“The problem with consumers when it comes to safety is that they won’t pay for it, but they expect it,” he said.

Read more:

First drive: Upmarket style, safety, price for Lancer

Read our drive impressions of the Mitsubishi Lancer sedan range

The Road to Recovery podcast series

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