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Ken Walker with the 
Mitsubishi Lancer VR-X (copyright image)

Mitsubishi Lancer VR-X (copyright image)

Mitsubishi Lancer VR-X (copyright image)

Mitsubishi Lancer VR-X (copyright image)

ROAD TEST:   Mitsubishi Lancer VR-X (auto)

by Ken Walker

21st July, 2009

Home > Road Tests > Mitsubishi

Lancer is a volume seller for Mitsubishi Motors and the Next Car Team take out the current model in VRX trim. There is only one higher trim level available in the regular Lancer line-up, the Aspire sedan. The other trim levels are ES (base model) and VR (mid-spec).

The Mitsubishi Lancer is a machine that keeps improving with each new model and the latest technology keeps appearing in the higher specification models. For instance, the VRX gains rain sensing wipers and light sensing headlights. This is equipment normally found in vehicles over the 30 grand mark. Certainly, these features are a very worthy and welcome inclusion in this class of vehicle. However, the driver must remember to set the controls of both lights and wipers to automatic, but hey, that’s not a big ask surely? And it also gains keyless ignition and access to the cabin and boot, but the “smart key” must be within 70 cm of the vehicle for these functions to operate.

On the road, I found the Lancer VRX Sportback responded willingly to a little throttle pressure and hurtled along the F3 Freeway effortlessly. Of course the 2.4 litre double overhead camshaft with 4 valves per cylinder MIVEC engine had a role in this performance. The figures quoted by MMAL show that this 'whiz' produces 125 kW at 6,000 rpm and maximum torque is 220 Nm at 4,100 rpm. Yes, this is an engine that likes to rev. With a kerb weight of just 1,375 kg this equates to a very reasonable power to weight ratio, which also explains the very good fuel consumption quoted at 8.9 l/per hundred kms. This figure was supplied by the manufacturer in accordance with ADR 81/01.

This package has a low aggressive stance, no doubt aided by the 18” alloy rims running 215/45R18 low profile tyres, rides very flat on the road with very little, if any, body roll when driven at the sign posted speed limits. It was enough to bring the lost “boy racer” images to this consultant. To assist in driver confidence a virtual plethora of safety features are fitted to this package as standard equipment. This includes 6 SRS airbags, anti-lock braking system, electronic brake force distribution, active stability control, active traction control, anti-intrusion pedal system and seat belt pretensioners with force limiters. There are no surprises here; this package has a 5 star ANCAP safety rating. Disc brakes all round provide the stopping ability. A very sporty suspension package is fitted to the VRX by way of MacPherson struts up front and the rear multi link independent system to provide great road holding ability. To further enhance this ability a front strut tower brace is installed that aids precise directional handling.

Inside the cabin there is a host of features that sometimes might make one feel that they are in the cockpit of a jumbo jet, such as the voice activated programmable blue tooth mobile telephone system that I am still trying to work, but then I don’t use an instruction manual until a last resort. Power windows all round with auto down for the driver, two cup and bottle holders in front with two cup holders in the rear, except if there are five passengers in the vehicle, privacy glass for the rear windows with tinted glass up front, 6 stack CD player with AM/FM radio and MP3 connectivity, no ashtray or lighter (how good is that) and 2 power sockets in the console area. The steering column and wheel are tilt adjustable while there are satellite controls on the arm for the cruise control, audio and blue tooth system. Within easy finger reach of the steering wheel are shift paddles for those wishing to use the CVT as a manual transmission. CVT? This equates to Constant Variable Transmission (CVT) and, as fitted to our test package, has six gears which are so smooth in its operation that it is difficult to distinguish the gear changes. Climate control air conditioning tops off this package of goodies, but is no means the end of the quantity of standard equipment features of this highly regarded package as the Team has only touched on a few items.

We rate the Mitsubishi Lancer VRX Sportback as a highly desirable and economical package, both to buy and operate. The only down side with the Lancer, to our way of thinking, is the space saver spare wheel, particularly when a full size rim and tyre is available as an accessory. But that doesn't mask the Lancer's ability to satisfy.


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