When the Lancer EX first came out, we all rejoiced at Mitsubishi's re-entry into the compact car market. And who can blame us?
There was nothing stellar about the previous Lancer in terms of style, performance, practicality and, ultimately sales. Thus, the proud nameplate became a mere wallflower as its rivals took a commanding lead. Not anymore.
On the looks side, there are few cars out there that look as good and as cool as their initial concept car versions, and the Lancer EX is one of them. The front end is simply one of the most aggressively good looking cars to ever leave Mitsubishi's production lines, thanks to the forward swept, jet fighter inspired grille The entire car looks ready to pounce, with a wide, proud stance, side skirts and GT wing. For the 2010 model year, Mitsubishi has installed a new front bumper with a blacked out grille previously found only on the Evolution X as standard, along with new taillamps. The rims are still the same 18 inch wheels, shod in Yokohama Advan tires.
Inside, nothing has been changed, and they really didn't need to. The cockpit is driver centric, with all the controls in perfect reach. At the center of the instrument cluster is a multi-info display that allows the driver to monitor the trip meters, fuel economy, fuel range, and even reminds you to take a break if you've been driving for too long. The LCD is flanked by your standard tachometer and speedometer.
In the middle of the dashboard is the best audio system in any of today's compact cars, furnished by Rockford Fosgate for a total of 710 watts, a Digital Signal Processor, 8 speakers and a subwoofer in the trunk. The car now has auxiliary audio input, though in the form of RCA jacks, allowing you to play your iPod with ease.
Starting the car, there's a nice note from the 2 liter 4B11 engine, the same found in the far more powerful Evolution X. Unlike its rally ready big brother, the GT-A's engine is naturally aspirated, but with MIVEC it is quite capable, churning out a maximum of 155 PS at 6000 rpm and 199 Newton-meters at 4250 rpm. The engine is matched with Mitsubishi's INVECS-III transmission which, unlike standard automatics, is a continuously variable transmission.
Taking the car out, it's every bit as good as I remember it. The steering wheel is great to the touch, though I do wish the leather wrap had a bit more texture. The shifter has a nice feel to it, and should you wish to shift manually, you can slot it to the right and go semi automatic or just use the magnesium paddles behind the wheel; down on the left, up on the right.
The Lancer's acceleration figures aren't mind blowing, as it sprints to 100 km/h in just under 10 seconds. However, it does shine at high speed, being stable and confident, not to mention economical thanks to the CVT's efficiency yielding up to 14 kilometers per liter at steady highway speeds.
Where most of its contemporaries have sobered up, the Lancer comes up with the driving dynamics befitting its aggressive design, and thats a good thing. Engage a winding road and the car and its suspension comes alive, and having 18 inch shoes and a wide sole mean you have a large footprint on the road for a high level of grip. The engine springs to life too and thanks to a pair of magnesium paddle shifters for the INVECS-III CVT means that all 155 horses are under your direct control.
Soon after its launch, the car we fell in love with became the victim of its own price point. Initially, the Lancer GT-A was offered at the 1.1M peso mark, which, considering the features it has, is quite a good deal. However, Mitsubishi experienced problems with pricing for its imported units, and the Lancer's price skyrocketed to a whisker under 1.4M.
Now with the transfer of assembly from Japan to here, the price has been cut back significantly, and the GT-A is back at a better price, and in top form.