September 22, 2014 @ 06:02 PM

Mitsubishi Lancer GTE - Driving an old-school hero

After all these years, the Lancer still drives and looks the part. Now that the GTE is here, it’s a throwback Thursday of sorts for Arvind Kumar.



After all these years, the Lancer still drives and looks the part. Now that the GTE is here, it’s a throwback Thursday of sorts for Arvind Kumar.

Being a child of the 90’s and  a petrolhead no less, my fondest memories of sketching dream cars on paper between classes (and some during) involved just three cars, the Impreza WRX, Nissan Skyline, and my favourite, the Lancer Evo. Golf GTI… nah, Renault Megane… what’s that?

Despite the car’s ageing design, the fighter-jet inspired grille, flanked by sharp looking combination headlamps, now enhanced with restyled bumpers and integrated LED daytime running lights set-up for an aggressive stance. A distinctive muscular beltline complimented by a pinched side skirts help spruce up the sides of the car.

At the back, the rally inspired spoiler and chiselled rump fill the rear quarters. Echoes of the Evo X can be found all over the GTE. So it looks meaner and faster than it really is. After all, the Lancer Evo X did function as a development platform for the more pedestrian offerings of the Lancer model.
 
Power comes from Mitsubishi’s 2.0-litre MIVEC powerplant capable of producing 148bhp at 6,000rpm whilst peak torque of 197Nm becomes available at 4,200rpm. Power is tractable, but as with the recently driven ASX SUV (of which drivetrain the GTE shares), you really have to pry power loose with huge revs and prodigious pedal work.

This is chiefly due to the INVECS-III CVT gearbox. A CVT’s relaxed nature makes for very good motorway cruising and mileage numbers. However, catch a lovely road for some energetic driving, and it slightly misses the mark. Mitsubishi’s unit, which has six stepped ratios, works a treat to provide a meaty six speed feel, but it does get perplexed when required to jump through the faux cogs quickly. Mitsubishi, please make the next car with a six-speed manual, it’s screaming for it.

The combination of high engine revs and a contrived CVT gearbox does mean economy figures take a beating. Mitsubishi claims an optimistic 5.9l/100km. I managed around 9.9l/100km through some very varied driving conditions. They’re not exactly bad, especially given the healthy power numbers.

The redeeming feature; it’s the way the GTE drives. Want different steering settings? Nope. Fancy a variable ratio-ed rack? Not here. You’d have to contend with the GTE’s beautifully weighted hydraulic steering, which transmits some very feelsome feedback to the leather wrapped steering wheel.

Point the front end at the apex of the corner, turn in is precise and the Yokohama tyres provide bountiful grip. The McPherson setup upfront can be unsettled on more bumpy surfaces but understeer is well managed and the multi-link rear setup will confidently follow through.

Through long sweepers even in the wet, body roll is apparent but consistently managed by the GTE’s rigid RISE framework. The game might have moved on a bit in terms of providing multiple settings for different driving styles, but for me, the GTE’s handling is where it’s at: tractable and trustworthy. In case things get precarious, the GTE has ABS, EBD, two dual-stage front row airbags plus one on the driver’s side knee.



The GTE is well put together; the fit and finish of panel gaps are consistent. The doors close with a secure thump. While on the inside, the leather seats replete with red lining are ace and comfortable. NVH levels are acceptable most of the time, except for when the Y-rated tyres start to hustle; it does become bothersome after a while.

The dashboard is simple and elegant. I kept wondering if Mitsubishi’s designers had left out something. They hadn’t obviously; it’s all ergonomically laid out and within reach. The piano black dash trim, gearknob, and door panels all feel premium to the touch and well executed.

Price for a fully-specified Lancer GTE: RM115,590, which if you consider the current crop of C-segment cars, is very good value. Most of the other Japanese offerings start off where a fully-imported Lancer GTE is complete.

One may argue that Kia and Hyundai have all the features and pub-bragging rights these days and newer onslaughts from Renault and Peugeot have also shrunk the marketplace further. But tell me this, which school-boy turned petrolhead ever penned a Hyundai or Peugeot between classes. For those guys, memories of their heroes don’t easily fade away.

TO THE POINT
LOVE
Great drive, good looks and build quality
HATE
Gearbox does not suit the car
VERDICT
Still encapsulates the best Mitsubishi has to offer.
3.5/5 Stars

Price
RM115,590
Engine
1998cc, 4 cyl, ECI-MIVEC, 148bhp @ 6000rpm, 197Nm @ 4200rpmGearbox
INVECS-III CVT, 6-Step Sports Mode
Performance
N/A
Weight
1310kg (4WD)
On Sale
Now

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