Parkers overall rating: 3 out of 5 3.0

Just two engines are available in the Lancer Sportback, starting with the 1.8-litre petrol. This is the more popular choice but it's hard to see why. It's sluggish and needs to be worked hard to get decent performance. It can cover the 0-62mph in 10.6 seconds, but in everyday driving it lacks low down pulling power, plus it will only return 36mpg. A positive five-speed manual gearbox is fitted as standard while there's also an optional CVT automatic.

However the auto is not great to use with the engine sounding strained most of the time while performance drops off considerably. The far better choice is the 2.0-litre diesel. It's badged DI-D but it is actually a TDI engine borrowed from Volkswagen. Although noisy, the 140bhp unit does at least offer decent in-gear pace plus a slick six-speed gearbox.

It's also frugal with a fuel economy figure of 45mpg.

The Lancer Sportback feels quite sporty on the road thanks to firm suspension and only a moderate amount of body roll in corners. Fortunately the ride quality isn't adversely affected and it smoothes out bumps and rough surfaces well, although models fitted with larger wheels do suffer from excessive road noise. On twisting routes the Mitsubishi is enjoyable to drive and surefooted - standard fit traction and stability control system keep everything in check.

The steering is responsive too but overly light and lacks feel.