The Mitsubishi Lancer used its recent hiatus to undergo a makeover. The previously none-too-exciting compact sedan skips the 2007 model year and re-emerges for 2008 showing more of an edge, although you’ll still know it’s a Lancer. Think of that wallflower kid back in high school who came back after summer vacation with a cool haircut and a new wardrobe.
While I wouldn’t exactly call it bold, as some reviewers are doing, I admit that it’s nothing if not cute, the kind of thing your little sister would be all over. Its spoiler and spoked wheels give it a contemporary look, and the word sporty does suit it – as long as it’s not parked between two Spyders.
The car’s face has a fierce look, somewhat reminiscent of a fighter jet (don’t forget – it was Mitsubishi who gave the world the legendary Zero). The hood, air intake, and bumper present a cohesive front, united by body color.
The interior is a bit edgy, with a somewhat unconventional design that has the shifter coming forward from the dash rather than up out the floor. It saves a bit of space and looks clean. The instrument panel is uncomplicated, yet modern-looking. But don’t expect to set too much down on the dash, as it is steeply sloped.
This new Lancer is built on the same platform as the Outlander crossover, which has also been redesigned. Although the wheelbase is longer than the previous generation’s, this Lancer is a tad shorter overall. The compact sport-sedan will be fully outfitted with safety equipment, from ABS to air bags.
All trim levels of this little buggy will have a 2.0-liter engine that kicks out 152 horses, except for models sold in California, where the special PZEV-certified engine will produce 143 horsepower. The ’08 Lancer will become the first Mitsubishi sold in the U.S. to offer a continuously variable transmission.
Check your local Mitsubishi dealership for the new Lancer, which will come in three trim levels, starting in March 2007. If you prefer the higher-powered Lancer Evolution X, you’ll have to wait an additional year.