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Lancer proves a real good sport; New model could change firm's fortunes.

Byline: Alistair Coull Motoring Writer

BY its own admission, Mitsubishi has had a patchy and sometimes near invisible presence in recent years in the European family car market.

The new Lancer is the model, it is hoped, that will change the Japanese company's fortunes.

Whilst its main markets are likely to be North America, Russia and Japan, the 10th generation Lancer has been specifically designed to attract European customers wanting a niche brand.

Alongside the compact Volvos, Subarus, Alfa Romeos and Saabs, and not forgetting the Fords and Vauxhalls either, the new Lancer shares the same assets of its rivals - sporting heritage, sharp styling and exciting driving characteristics - plus acknowledged Japanese reliability.

Competitively priced, bigger and better equipped than most of its mainstream competitors, the Lancer's sharp handling, safety features, crisp styling and advanced technology underline its sporting credentials.

While the previous Lancer's design was pretty dull, the new model is a bit more macho. The front is fairly aggressive with the headlights slanting down towards the new grille while the rear features a spoiler.

While the exterior is a bit of a hooligan design, the interior is a lot safer looking. The centre console is dominated by a seven-inch satnav screen which sits above some pretty cheap-looking ventilation dials.

The steering wheel has audio control buttons and there's carbon fibre-effect material along the dash.

There's an impressive amount of space inside the cabin for four adults. The boot provides 400 litres of baggage space but because there is a boot lid rather than a hatchback, loading and unloading can be a bit difficult.

Visibility is OK although the spoiler badly restricts rear vision.

There are three engines to choose from - a 1.5 or 1.8-litre petrol or, as in the test car, a 2.0-litre turbo diesel sourced from Volkswagen so reliability is not an issue.

The diesel produces 138bhp and 228lb/ft of pulling power which accelerates the Lancer from rest to 62mph in 9.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 129mph.

The Lancer's suspension is quite firm so bumpy roads can be a little uncomfortable. Put your foot down and the Lancer grips well and the steering is precise.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 12, 2008
Words:366
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