Lancer bling for youthful drivers
TRADITIONALLY, I don't Tweet. Nor do I partake in the art of Facebooking. And even though I pay good money for my undies, I don't feel the need to show all and sundry.
Yet for a week I channelled my inner youth. Phrases such as “what ev” (that's young person speak for whatever), LOL (laugh out loud), OMG (oh my God) and I began referring to myself as G-Dawg.
Helping to wind back the clock was the Mitsubishi Lancer VRX.
While not quite the epitome of youth, it has all the bling at a price within reach of your modern-day youngster. For 30 grand, you get a slick looking machine with alloys, body kit and big rear wing.
And, best of all, it's got a phat (loud and proud) subwoofer in the boot.
The VRX probably has a wider appeal than those in their twen-teens, but the Lancer has been a popular choice for the younger generation who find them to be the perfect canvas for all their much-needed bells and whistles.
The CJ model was released back in 2007, and last year Lancer was among Australia's top 10 selling cars.
Across the entire Lancer range, there is some new standard gear and a new SX model (that sits between the ES and the VR), which are the main changes in a mid-life update.
BEING the sporting derivative, the VRX gains a few athletic interior garnishes to keep up with the exterior looks.
Faux carbon pieces and the new colour LCD screen combine with a predominantly black dash and basic layout which works well and is easily navigated.
There's still no telescopic steering wheel adjustment, just tilt, along with the use of hard plastics through the console and doors.
Otherwise, the VRX is a compliant ride with soft supportive seats and good head, elbow and leg room. Improved sound insulation has enhanced the cabin noise when you are up and running, although there is still some tyre rumble and you really hear the engine sing if you start to push above 4000rpm.
On the road
VRX versions have a capacity advantage over lower grades, but it only adds up to 12 more kilowatts and 28 extra Newton metres.
That ensures that the five-speed manual is the pick transmission for those who want to get the most out of the driving experience.
You shouldn't be fooled by the fast exterior, this is a four-potter in wolf's clothing. Punch the accelerator hard and the engine works loudly without much reward high in the rev range, and attacking corners with excessive excitement will expose the front-wheel-drive shortfalls – oversteer and lack of traction.
Yet the driving majority will never push their car to the brink and rarely find much wrong with the experience.
Those seeking more will likely go for aftermarket accessories, like firmer suspension.
The Lancer remains an easy car to drive, comfortable and capable of handling all conditions.
THERE are quite a few to choose from in this sporting genre, Honda Civic Sport (from $31,990), Mazda3 SP25 sedan (from $29,255), Skoda Octavia 1.8TSI (from $30,990), Subaru Impreza RS sedan (from $28,990), Suzuki Kizashi XL (from $27,990),Toyota Camry Sportivo (from $33,990).
What do you get?
ADDITIONS to the specification sheet include brake assist, and a better power window system, along with a USB port, welcome lights and Bluetooth connectivity.
There is one annoying part of the Bluetooth system with voice command, you can only pair your phone while stationary.
Those extras join a smart key (which means you just need to have the remote in your pocket or handbag to start the car), six-stacker stereo with subwoofer in the boot, auto lights and wipers, MP3 player jack, climate-controlled air-con, cruise and steering wheel audio controls.
Helping achieve a five-star safety rating are seven airbags and dynamic stability control.
BOTH rear seats fold in a 60-40 configuration, but the sedan is not as appealing as the hatch in terms of cargo flexibility.
There is still enough space for five adults – as long as those in the back aren't big, burly types.
WITH 18-inch 10-spoke alloys, body kit, jet fighter-style grille, big rear spoiler, it's a slick looking piece of gear.
FUEL consumption is excellent at under nine litres per 100km.
But the best peace of mind is the factory backing. You get a five year/130,000km whole vehicle warranty, 10 year/160,000km powertrain warranty and a five year/unlimited kilometre roadside assistance.
It might have the looks of the Ralliart or Evo, but without the turbocharging buyers can enjoy much lower insurance premiums.
YOU get ample bling for your bucks, and while you don't quite reap the performance rewards that the looks promote, it remains an enjoyable car for most drivers and conditions.
Model: Mitsubishi Lancer VRX.
Details: Four-door front wheel drive sedan.
Engine: 2.4-litre four-cylinder generating maximum power of 125kW @ 6000rpm and peak torque of 226Nm @ 4100rpm.
Transmission: Five-speed manual or continuously variable automatic.
Consumption: 8.7 litres/100km (combined average).
Bottom line: $29,990 (manual, as tested); $32,490 (CVT).
For more motoring check out Drive.com.au.