Con­tender fights back

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Road Test -

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.

DE­SIGN

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.

SAFETY

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.

DRIV­ING

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.

VER­DICT

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

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