The Mitsubishi Lancer is a car that introduced a whole generation of young individuals to the world of performance and yet affordable motoring. Not only was the Lancer a legend on the race track (especially in Japan) with multiple touring car wins in different race series outings but it ruthlessly dominated the world’s rally stages with drivers like Tommi Makinen winning the World Rally Championship too. The Lancer was loved more on the street than on the race circuits with thousands of tuners flocking to these easy-to-tune machines and pumping up the power to over 100 bhp in some cases! The Lancer was even popular in pop culture with prominent roles in the Fast and Furious series of movies as the lead actor’s primary automobile.
In India, the Lancer, launched in the late 90s was a popular alternative to the likes of the Honda City. While Mitsubishi later launched the Lancer Cedia in India, more modern and up to date cars eventually meant very very low sales figures. And even though the Lancer Cedia was a great car to drive, it was eventually discontinued. Similarly, globally, the Lancer badge which was represented by an aging platform was eventually laid to rest as Mitsubishi announced its ‘SUV and Crossover Only’ policy with everything getting a hybrid (or electric assist) powertrain. Of course, that also meant the death of the Lancer Evolution with only 10 models of the car making it to production (the last Evo 10 was also sold in India).
That said, the Lancer brand name is something that seems to refuse to die. According to news reports from several Chinese automotive publications, the Lancer is returning as a China and Taiwan only model. The new car, called the Grand Lancer gets a new design and a slightly updated interior as compared to the older car. The front nose is now reminiscent of the Outlander while the rear gets a very strange design with boomerang-esque tail lamps. All the sporting credentials that even the base model Lancer (and not the EVO only) seemed to have seem to be replaced by a society conforming approach. The interior does get a touchscreen infotainment and a LCD screen for the instrument cluster.
So will this new car spawn a new generation of fast Mitsubishis? Well, unlikely. Not only is this car actually made by CMC – China Motor Corporation, which is Mitsubishi’s JV partner in China. Although it appears to be a new car on the outside, it is infact based on a 10 year old platform that underpinned the last generation Lancer. The ‘new’ Lancer also gets the same 1.8-litre engine from the previous generation car and gets a CVT gearbox for the China market. Hopefully, Mitsubishi can sell thousands of these in China and use the money to resurrect the legendary RALLIART division. And we don’t mean a version with some stickers and a different set of wheels, we mean a genuine RALLIART tuned car with enough performance to bring back the much loved Evo name!