After nine attempts, Mitsubishi seems to have got it right

Bruce Fraser

Bruce Fraser

For me, it's interesting how motor manufacturers manage to produce so many generations of a vehicle.

Take for example the new Mitsubishi Lancer.

Since first introduced to our shores in 1973, the Lancer is now into its ninth generation. And after nine attempts, it seems they have definitely got it right.

But it has not always been plain sailing for this Japanese giant. In fact, they got it so wrong with the previous Lancer that heads rolled over the poor response from the public to its design.

Unveiled at a media launch last week, the new Lancer appears to have finally come of age - sleek lines, spacious interior, attractive dashboard and an engine that has definite "go" to it.

The old saying that "first impressions are often what sells a car" is very true. And after a very short time behind the wheel, I was definitely sold.

The most impressive thing for me was the smooth 5-speed gearbox. Changing gears was effortless and exact. Even at low revs the car would accelerate nicely in fourth or fifth gear.

Mitsubishi promises an automatic some time next year, but if you enjoy your driving, the manual does just fine.

Under the bonnet sits a 2,0-litre engine that produces 114kw and a claimed top-speed of 200km/h.

Coming as standard in the vehicle is an impressive list of extras - airbags, ABS brakes, alarm/immobiliser, colour-coded bumpers, multi-functional steering wheel. Not bad at all considering it only costs R175000.

The Lancer will be targeting the 25-45 age group, and will be competing in the same segment as the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic and Mazda 3.

It might not carry the same weight in the motoring world as those vehicles just mentioned, but it will definitely give its competitors a run for their money.

The car is also available with a 1,5-litre engine, which unfortunately we didn't get a chance to test.

Also, for those who wish to "pimp" their ride a bit, a whole range of accessories, including wide rims and a boot spoiler, are available at around R15000.

Both models come with a 5-year/100000km service plan, and service intervals are at every 15000km.

To view a video of the launch, you can log on to