The 1.8-litre petrol engine is paired with either a five-speed manual gearbox or, for greater convenience, an automatic CVT. The auto gearbox doesn’t noticeably increase fuel consumption, unlike a conventional auto, but it's not great to use and the engine sounds strained and noisy the majority of the time. The manual is marginally better and helps the Lancer to sprint from 0-62mph in under ten seconds.
However we'd stick with the 2.0-litre Volkswagen-sourced diesel engine which, although noisy, does at least offer decent in-gear pace and a slick six-speed gearbox. It's also frugal with a fuel economy figure of 45mpg. However those looking for fast thrills may be disappointed by the Lancer’s rather tame performance and will be better suited to the quicker (but more expensive) Evo X which is reviewed separately.
In August 2009 an entry-level 1.5-litre engine was added to the range. With a modest 107bhp it's not very quick and 0-62mph takes 11.6 seconds but it is fairly economical averaging 44mpg.
Mitsubishi has tweaked the Lancer's suspension especially for UK buyers and it’s evident that some of the Evo X’s DNA has rubbed off. Thanks to the sportier set-up, twisty B-roads are good fun and corners can be taken with comfort and confidence, while standard-fit traction and stability control systems enhance safety. The ride is settled and all but the harshest of road surfaces are absorbed well, but it does feel a little firm in town which can take the edge of comfort.
It's not particularly nimble either and reverse parking is made difficult by the obstructive rear spoiler.