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Lancer given a sporty outlook.

Byline: By Mike Torpey

Mention the name Lancer and most car enthusiasts instantly think of the legendary Evolution IX supermodel.

In reality the Lancer range has been more about a safe, reliable, high value proposition than blistering pace and hardcore style.

But early this summer Mitsubishi changed that. Until then the only engine available for buyers of the stylish four-door saloon models had been a 1.6-litre unit producing 96bhp. That is tame given the car shares its silhouette with the Evo.

So the Japanese company's engineers developed the Lancer Sport with a two-litre petrol engine and the promise of a more dynamic driving experience.

It costs pounds 11,524 on the road and looks like a far more expensive car. It also looks a lot more powerful than it is.

While the Sport's performance is quite spirited ( 0-62 in 9.6secs to be precise ( you have to work the car to get the best out of it, maximum power not arriving until quite high up the rev range.

To cope with the extra boost, there's a new suspension set-up that has been re-tuned and lowered by 30mm, while putting on 16-inch alloy wheels with low profile tyres is intended to enhance the driving experience. In truth, they still look too small.

Perhaps the biggest surprise concerns the interior. Rather than the rear space being cramped and uncomfortable, there's more than adequate legroom for adults. Plenty can fit in the long, shallow boot too.

Up front the revision brought in with this model sees the addition of a Momo leather-wrapped steering wheel, sports-type front seats and black on white instruments.

You also get a fair amount of storage. There are door bins, glovebox, cupholders, central box and coin slots but the feel of the dash and fascia plastics is on the brittle side.

Overall the Lancer is a comfortable, pleasant car to drive though not everyone will appreciate its lowdown stance on the road, or that conspicuous boot-mounted spoiler.

If the target customer for this model, as opposed to the 1.6 Equippe or Elegance, is the enthusiast, then there are sharper, more desirable offerings out there.

But they will probably have to pay considerably more to get behind the wheel of them because there's no doubt the Lancer range in its entirety represents terrific value.

Even the cheapest model, at pounds 9,999, includes metallic paint, air-con, a removable CD player, keyless entry, front fog lights, colour-keyed electric door mirrors, adjustable rear headrests and a high mount stop lamp.

Safety, too, is a priority with front and side airbags, Isofix child seat anchorage points in the rear and electric windows with an anti-trap function to stop fingers being caught.

Facts and figures

Mitsubishi Lancer 2.0 Sport 4 door

Price: pounds 11,524

Mechanical: 133bhp, 1,997cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5 speed manual gearbox

Max speed: 127mph

0-62mph: 9.6 seconds

Combined mpg: 33.6

Insurance group: 12

CO2 emissions: 199g/km

BiK rating: 26%

Warranty: 3 years/ unlimited mileage, 6 years paint, 6 years anti-rust
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 11, 2006
Words:511
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