Contender fights back
adjustment). There’s a new touchscreen USB-equipped sound system that displays the view from the reversing camera.
Also fitted to the LX are rear parking sensors, heated front seats, power-adjustable driver’s seat, leather trim, 16in alloy wheels, side skirts, some chrome trim bits, keyless entry and ignition.
The five-year warranty plus roadside-assist package is a winner in itself. you appear to have to use the voice control to pair and set up a Bluetooth phone link, rather than also having the option of completing the task on screen.
The familiar snout of the threediamond brand is, like much of its range, overdue— by the company’s own admission— for an update. Four years is an eon in a market as competitive as small cars.
It looks distinctive enough, if hardly pretty as some of its main opposition, including the hard-charging Mazda3 sales juggernaut and the latest crop from the Korean brands.
The cabin has enough space for the nuclear family and their gear— boot size at 400 litres is better than some bigger sedans.
Foibles are few: the USB port is tough to find and tilt-only adjustment for the steering and the Bluetooth link can be a little fussy, but it was nimble and rode well enough.
One of the first small cars to gain a five-star ANCAP rating, the LX has seven airbags— front, front-side, curtain and one for the driver’s knee— as well as stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes and emergency brake assist.
The 2.0-litre engine is lively and more flexible than the numbers suggest, as well as being close to its ADR fuel-use figure. We finished with a figure of 7.9L/100km. The fivespeed manual has a decent gearbox— not super-swift of shift and the clutch took some familiarisation. Inevitably buyers go for the continuously variable auto transmission, but my preference for the manual control wasn’t undermined.
The cabin is a comfortable space, with climate control and heated front seats keeping the temperature settled. It’s not overdone in terms of design flair and won’t be to all tastes, just like the exterior.
The Lancer’s age is offset by some worthy features, including a solid warranty that provides some level of security.
It’s not quite up to the dynamics of a Mazda3 or a Ford Focus, rather it’s a civilised little all-rounder— but the shadow of the new Corolla looms large.
Tank All-rounder: The civilised Lancer has had a long innings