- We like...Big car for the cash
- We don't...High ownership costs
Bread-and-butter hatchback version of Mitsubishi's mid-size car offers a lot for what you pay. But is it a good buy?One of the great things about driving Mitsubishi’s new Lancer is that it looks (a bit) like a really, sexy, want-me car. We’re thinking, (yep, you’ve guessed) of the Evo, the car that pushes 300-360bhp through its tyres and on to the road.
The Lancer may share its looks and even a part or two. But ours has a 1.8-litre petrol engine that produces a workaday 131bhp. And while it looks mean and sporty viewed head-on (thanks to its all-new snout) and just a little like an Audi A3, this five-door hatch also looks clumpy around its hind-quarters – as if separate designers shaped the front and rear.
Still, it’s a lot of car for your hard-earned – bigger than a VW Golf or a Ford Focus but, model-for-model, it’s a whack cheaper. And, for what you get, its price is a fair one because alloy wheels, air conditioning and all the other stuff you expect on a modern car is standard. What’s more, it looks stand it apart from the pack and, being a Mitsubishi, you won’t see that many others on the road.
Inside the cabin is pleasant enough, with a look to the dash that is very ‘now’. But you’ll not find any of the classy soft-touch plastics used inside, say, a Golf or the latest Renault Megane hatchback and the radio's control knobs look downright cheap. Even so, the wheel and gear shift are covered in soft leather, making them a pleasure to hold.
Space for passengers is good, though the centre rear seat feels too thinly padded to stay comfy for long, while the steeply sloping tailgate cuts into headroom for those in the back. The boot’s long and wide, if shallow, and is easy to enlarge thanks to a couple of handles at the edge of the boot that, when tugged, drop the seat backs.
To drive, the Lancer feels old school. The steering is light but lacks feel and is short on precision, while the ride is pattery at low-speeds, rarely settling in town unless the road surface is smooth. Meanwhile, the engine is boomy and coarse-sounding once you push the revs. And push you must, because it feels a little reluctant at low engine speeds. It’s not at its best when hustled, but you’ll need hard revving and frequent gear changes if you want to spur it quickly up to motorway speeds.
And, while its price may look keen, this is not going to be a cheap car to own. Early-years depreciation – the rate at which it’ll lose value from new – is better than a Ford Focus's but notably worse than a Volkswagen Golf's. After three years, it’ll be worth 40% of what it cost when new. If that’s not enough, it’ll need servicing every 12,500 miles, which is more often than some rivals. And there’s its considerable thirst for unleaded, allied to its high CO2 emissions rating, which bumps up the annual cost of its tax disc.
Buying second-hand is a brighter prospect: Mitsubishis have a deserved reputation as tough, long-lived cars, and that heavy depreciation means they become relatively cheap once they’re a couple of years old.
The Lancer’s far from bad. But when not much extra money will buy you exceptional cars such as the Golf or the Focus, this Mitsubishi can’t help but lose out.
For used Mitsubishi Lancers, go to motors.co.uk
- Engines1.8-litre petrol
- 0-60 mph10.4sec
- Insurance groups8
Motors.co.uk value verdict: