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Mitsubishi Evo looks, diesel economy

Rafay Ansar

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It may look like a snarling, rally-derived super saloon, but the Mitsubishi Lancer 2.0 DI-D GS4 is a turbodiesel-powered family car. With average economy in the mid-40s, it's also a good deal more practical and easier on the wallet than the mighty Evo X. However, that won't stop passers-by pointing and gawping as the GS4 has much the same exterior appearance as the attention-grabbing Evo.



What are its rivals?

The Lancer sits somewhere between the small hatch and family car classes, so it has a broad spread of rivals. Everything from the Ford Focus and Mondeo to the Subaru Impreza can be looked upon as competition, though as the Lancer is a four-door saloon many of its competitors have the advantage of a hatchback tailgate for added practicality. More realistic rivals come in the shape of the Alfa Romeo 159, Chrysler Sebring and Volvo S40, which are all saloons trying to offer a bit of class at affordable prices.



How does it drive?

It may not have the fancy four-wheel drive and clever electronics that make the Evo supernaturally grippy in every circumstance, but the turbodiesel Lancer is still entertaining on a back road. It sticks to the road very ably thanks to its standard 18in alloy wheels and chunky fat tyres. It's composed in corners and the firm suspension resists body lean.

However, that same suspension also makes the Lancer too unforgiving in more mundane driving conditions. It skips and jiggles around on anything other than a perfectly smooth piece of road. Also letting the side down is the steering's paucity of feel and over-light assistance that rob the driver of the direct connection with the car found in its Evo relative. Throw in too much wind, road and engine noise and the Lancer is not the most satisfying car in its class to spend time in behind the wheel.



What's impressive?

Mitsubishi has a hard won and highly deserved reputation for building cars that last. And last, and last. The interior plastics may not be the most appealing to look at, but you can bet your bottom dollar the cabin will be creak-free in years to come and every switch will still be clicking as it should. The same applies to the mechanical components, so piling on the miles in a Lancer will not be an issue. Key among the oily bits is the 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine, which returns a respectable 44.8mpg combined economy, though its carbon dioxide emissions of 165g/km are now only average for this size of car.



The other impressive aspect of the GS4 trim Lancer is the amount of standard equipment included in the price. Buyers are treated to electronic stability control and no fewer than eight airbags, including a brace of 'bags for the front passengers' knees. There's also rear privacy glass, 18in alloy wheels, satellite navigation, CD stereo with hard drive to store music, leather seats, heated front seats, climate and cruise controls. All of that makes it hard for the Lancer's rivals to get close to the same specification for similar money.

What's not?

The engine. It's a Volkswagen-supplied 2.0-litre with 138bhp, but the Germans have kept all knowledge of how to suppress this engine's gruff barks to themselves. It's one of the most uncouth engines to be found in any of the current crop of small hatches and family cars and overrides all of the Lancer's many attractions. This is because the engine noise immediately dominates any journey and makes longer treks a wearisome prospect. Dishing out all of its power in one big splurge rather than a smooth, measured way it's some way off the smoother, more linear delivery many more modern rivals' engines can manage.



Should I buy one?

There's a lot to commend the Mitsubishi Lancer 2.0 DI-D GS4, not least its impressive list of standard equipment. It also looks great and lives up to the image with agile handling. However, the crude nature of the turbodiesel engine spoils the show for this Mitsubishi and would steer us in the direction of one of the Lancer's equally able but more refined rivals.

SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer Mitsubishi
Model Lancer
Type saloon
Trim DI-D GS4
List Price 18,499 on-the-road £
Length wheelbase 4,570/2,635mm
Height width 1,490/1,760mm
Insurance Group 9
Engine Capacity 1,968cc
Fuel Diesel
Transmission manual
Doors 4
Nil to sixty 9.7 seconds
Top speed 129mph
WARRANTIES

Manufacturer Mitsubishi
Model Lancer
STATISTICS

Manufacturer Mitsubishi
Model Lancer
Miles per Gallon 44.8 miles/gallons
C02 165 g of C02/km
FEATURES

Standard Optional
Alloy Wheels Yes
Air Conditioning Yes
Front Electric Window Yes
Rear Electric Window Yes
Satellite Naviga Yes
Bluetooth Yes
Stereo System Yes
Tinted Glass Yes
Leather Yes
Leather Interior Yes
CD Player Yes
Central Door Locker Yes
Cruise Control Yes
Electric Door Mi Yes
Manual Sunroof £No
Electric Sunroof £No
Power Steering Yes
AntiLock Brakes Yes
Anti Theft Device Yes
Driver Air Bag Yes
Passenger Air Bag Yes
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