Aspire to great things
Mitsubishi has refreshed the little Lancers, writes NEILMcDONALD
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.