On the local scene, the Lancer nameplate goes back to the mid-seventies.
From the Land of The Rising Sun, it wore American maker Chrysler’s badges back then. It was a portent of things to come though, with Japanese cars to soar in popularity and Lancer’s maker, Mitsubishi, eventually consuming Chrysler Australia.
The tenth generation and still-current CJ series Lancer debuted in late 2007 in sedan format and was joined by the five-door Sportback twelve months on. Limited edition, Ralliart and EVO models aside, there’s a choice of three main grades in both body styles - the entry level ES followed by the VR and the sportier VR-X.
Initially, all three specifications sported a new 2.0-litre DOHC petrol engine with 113kW of power. From August 2008 the VR-X changed to a 125kW 2.4-litre engine also shared with the well-equipped Aspire sedan released around that time. Transmission choice in all versions was a five-speed manual or a CVT auto with six preset ratios for manual shifting.
Antilock brakes with electronic brake distribution and brake assist, plus traction and stability control, and dual front and driver’s knee airbags were standard on ES. Other models added side and curtain airbags. These became standard on ES from 2010. Lancer’s safety credentials make it a sound choice for newer drivers.
VRX’s sportier enhancements included sports-tuned suspension, larger wheels with lower profile rubber, and bigger brakes.
Larger than its predecessor, CJ Lancer is one of the roomier cars in the class. It’s an easy car to drive, though the lack of steering reach adjustment detracts.
On road Lancer offers capable handling, a mostly compliant ride, and its 2.0-litre engine is one of the stronger performers in the class. The 2.4-litre offers extra grunt but with slightly higher fuel use. The CVT gearbox can be an acquired taste and lead to increased engine din on harder acceleration. The standard issue spacesaver spare wheel gets our thumbs down.
Lancer appears to be reassuringly reliable and cars with the balance of Mitsubishi’s 5yr/130,000km warranty shouldn’t be hard to find. However the extended power-train warranty doesn’t transfer from the original owner. A professional pre-purchase inspection is recommended.
Under The Pump
Lancer will use between 5.4 litres and 12.3 litres of fuel every 100km, depending on model and driving conditions.
For an indication of what you would pay for this vehicle please go to RACQ's online car price guide or contact our Motoring Advice Service on 07 3666 9148 or 1800 623 456 outside the Brisbane area.
Mazda 3 2007 Onwards
A standout amongst the multitude in this class. Well finished, impressive handling and steering. Sedan and hatch versions. Petrol and manual-only diesel variants. Curtain and front side airbags standard on base model from May 2010.
Ford Focus 2007- 2011
Excellent handling and steering, decent performer with 2.0-litre petrol or turbo-diesel. Diesel is six-speed manual only till late 2009 when dual-clutch auto arrived. Hatch and sedan versions. Not as well finished as Mazda.
Toyota Corolla 2007 Onwards
Perennially popular. Solid and competent if unexciting transport. Reliability a virtue. Choice of hatch or sedan. 1.8-litre petrol, no diesel. No ESC pre-2009 and only standard on all models from early 2010.