As­pire to great things

Mit­subishi has re­freshed the lit­tle Lancers, writes NEILMcDONALD

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

ITS 380 V6 sedan is largely con­signed to his­tory, so Mit­subishi is con­cen­trat­ing on its small cars, re­fresh­ing its Lancer range for next year. Apart from vis­ual and equip­ment up­dates, a new range-top­ping 2.4-litre As­pire model has been added to the mix. The big­ger en­gine also re­places the 2.0-litre four in the VRX sedan.

The 2.4-litre, bor­rowed from the Out­lander off-roader, comes to the VRX with a choice of a five-speed man­ual or Mit­subishi’s con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion.

The en­gine de­vel­ops 125kW at 6000 revs and 226Nm at 4100 revs.

In the As­pire the 2.4 is mated to a CVT only. Mit­subishi hopes the well-equipped $33,990 As­pire will broaden the Lancer’s ap­peal and steal sales from the medium seg­ment.

Prices have risen slightly but the en­try man­ual ES re­mains at $20,990. The ES with CVT is up $200 to $23,490. The big­gest price in­creases are re­served for the VRX, which rises to $29,790 for the man­ual and $32,290 for the CVT.

Apart from trim and en­gine up­grades, Mit­subishi has also an­swered crit­i­cism of in­te­rior noise lev­els by in­tro­duc­ing bet­ter sound dead­en­ing.

Mit­subishi passenger ve­hi­cle prod­uct plan­ning man­ager Chris Maxted is bullish about the As­pire’s po­ten­tial, which he sees as a ri­val to the en­try-spec­i­fi­ca­tion Honda Ac­cord Euro, Mazda6 and Ford Mon­deo and Toy­ota Camry.

‘‘We have found up to 32 per cent of our new Lancer cus­tomers are com­ing to us from mid and large-sized passenger ve­hi­cles,’’ he says, adding th­ese buy­ers do not wish to sac­ri­fice more lux­u­ri­ous in­te­ri­ors or the re­sponse of a big­ger en­gine.

‘‘But they do recog­nise the need to con­serve their re­sources, and that’s where the As­pire is a per­fect match,’’ he says. ‘‘The As­pire is a strate­gi­cally im­por­tant car for us.’’

Maxted says the As­pire could sell up to 250 a month, which would rep­re­sent about 20 per cent of over­all Lancer sales.

As a launch in­cen­tive, the As­pire will ini­tially come with a satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem, nor­mally a $2400 op­tion.

The Lancer has been one of the big im­provers for the brand this year.

The com­pany has sold 13,297 so far this year, eclips­ing the Honda Civic and erod­ing some of the dom­i­nance of the Mazda2 and Toy­ota Corolla.

The Lancer As­pire will be joined by the five-door Sport­back ES, VR and VRX hatch next month.

As­pire and higher: the Lancer As­pire ini­tially comes with satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion, nor­mally a $2400 op­tion.

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