Mitsubishi Lancer hatchback (2008-2011)
"Aggressive looks don't match up with the Lancer Sportback's bland performance. On the plus-side, it's practical and cheap to buy."
- Impressive space for passengers
- Long standard kit list
- Cheap price-tag
- Noisy engine choices
- Bouncy suspension
- Not as engaging as rivals
The Lancer Sportback shares much of its design with the firm's high performance Lancer Evo saloon, so it's strange that it struggles to deliver similar thrills on the road. The body rolls and leans in corners, while the steering doesn't offer the kind of feel or feedback of rivals like the Volkswagen Golf. Instead, it's a competent and easy to drive family car that boasts a cheap price-tag and generous equipment list.
MPG, running costs & CO2
The engine with the lowest running costs is the 1.5-litre petrol, which, with CO2 emissions of 156g/km, is the cheapest to fill with fuel. The diesel engine manages to achieve the best economy with 45.6mpg and also falls into the same tax bracket as the 1.5-litre petrol engine. It's no surprise that the performance Ralliart models aren't exactly cheap to run.
Engines, drive & performance
The Lancer is available with three engine choices in standard trim – there are 1.5-litre and 1.8-litre petrol units and a 2.0-litre diesel engine sourced from Volkswagen. There is also a range-topping Ralliart model, which gets a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine. The best bet for everyday driving is the diesel engine, which provides a decent turn of speed and can accelerate from 0-62mph in 9.5 seconds. Unfortunately it's not very smooth, and is noisy under heavy acceleration. If that sounds like it would annoy you, we would recommend trying the slightly slower 1.8-litre petrol engine. You'd expect the Lancer to perform well in the bends, but standard Sportback models are softly sprung and the body leans when cornering. Matters aren't helped by the light steering which doesn't offer the kind of feel you get from class leaders like the Focus.
Interior & comfort
You'd expect the Lancer to be comfortable given the soft suspension set-up, and to an extent it is. You'll never find yourself crashing over potholes and bumps, but instead the Lancer struggles to settle and will bounce up and down for longer than you'd expect. Under hard acceleration, the diesel unit is noticeably gruff and the petrol units become loud at high revs. The automatic "CVT" gearbox can make things worse so be careful before ticking the box.
Practicality & boot space
One of the Lancer's big draws will be the amount of space in the cabin, particularly in the back seats. Rear passengers will find themselves with plenty of leg-room. The boot is large and boasts a clever dual-level floor which can hide items out of sight. The rear seats are easy to fold down at the touch of a button if more space is needed.
Reliability & safety
Things look promising for the Lancer, thanks to Mitsubishi's proven reliability record. It also helps that the 2.0-litre diesel engine has been used in Volkswagen models without any problems for years. It's safe too, with all models scoring a maximum five stars in Euro NCAP testing. The only thing to watch out for is the lack of traction control as standard on the entry-level GS2 models. As far as build quality is concerned, there's nothing to suggest the Lancer is flimsily built, but interior materials used feel quite cheap.
Price, value for money & options
Entry level Sportback GS2 models get a healthy amount of standard kit, including air-conditioning, electric windows and 16-inch alloy wheels. The top-spec GS4 models come with luxuries like cruise control and heated-leather seats, as well as a more stylish look thanks to a bodykit and large alloy wheels. Limited edition Juro models represent best value for money, with leather seats, cruise control, air-con, sat-nav and reversing camera all included for little more than the basic GS2 models.