Thursday, September 6, 2012

2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback: Unusual Shape, Pretty Good Ride

Mitsubishi has been largely marginalized in recent years as a mainstream car brand, but its specialty remains making sporty small cars that are popular among young males.

The five-seat Lancer Sportback hatchback fits that build, with its unusual styling and spirited driving dynamics.
The front-wheel-drive Lancer Sportback lets you choose from two engines: a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 148 horsepower and is found on the ES model, or a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that makes 168 horsepower and is found on the GT model.

Both engines come with a standard five-speed manual or optional continuously variable automatic transmission.

The 2.0 gets 24 mpg city, 32 highway and the 2.4 gets 22 and 29.

On the outside, the Lancer Sportback has the overall design language of its Lancer sedan sibling in the front, but theres a marked difference in appearance in the rear. The Sportback hatchback door has a sharply slanting angle, making it look almost like a coupe in the rear.

As an added sporty touch, there's a rear spoiler near the roof.

You may recall that Chevrolet tried this a few years back with the Malibu, and the result was absolutely hideous.

Fortunately, the Lancer Sportback's look is much better than that, and really might have some appeal to many observers.

On the ES model, there are standard 16-inch wheels, with 18-inchers optional. Mitsubishi says it also offers optional bi-xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights, a power glass sunroof and rain-sensing windshield wipers.

On the inside, the Lancer Sportback seats five, and also has a large cargo area (52.7 cubic feet when the back seats are down). Mitsubishi says interior options include a USB port, Rockford Fosgate stereo with a subwoofer and heated leather seats.

The Lancer Sportback offers standard safety features that include side-impact airbags for the front seats, side curtain airbags for both rows, knee airbag for the driver, antilock brakes and an electronic stability system.

The Lancer Sportback is priced modestly, starting at around $19,000 and ranging to about $22,000.

This model might not broaden Mitsubishi's appeal much beyond the young male demographic that it connects with now, but for those who might be inclined to consider such an unusual car, it might not be a bad choice.

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