All good things must come to an end, even for revered automobiles such as the Mitsubishi Lancer. But rather than silently bid farewell, Mitsubishi instead decided to give the rather compact sedan one last update before consigning it to automotive history.
The Lancer EX has been in the market for the last decade but its sharp exterior design still gave the sedan an aggressive and purposeful look. It still has the large jet-inspired front grill but the front bumper, HID adaptive headlights with cornering lamps and foglights have been revised, giving the car a fresher appearance.
Also new on the 2016 Lancer GT-A are the LED daytime running lights (DRLs) and new 18-inch two-tone alloy wheels, both of which I liked. It was also nice to see the GT wing, side skirts and distinct taillights on the 2016 Lancer.
Inside, practically everything was carried over from the pre-facelift model. Not that there's something wrong with it; in fact, I like the driver-oriented dashboard, along with the stainless steel pedals, leather steering wheel and black fabric seats. The multi-information display (MID) is now channeled through a TFT LCD screen which replaced the previous dot matrix display. Even the dual pod gauges have been slightly tweaked and are now better illuminated.
A welcome addition in the 2016 Lancer is the power sunroof. With extra sunlight coming into the cabin, it brightens up the otherwise pre-dominantly gray interior. Do note that the sunroof will slightly reduce headroom so taller drivers, take heed.
Audiophiles may be disappointed however that the Rockford Fosgate audio system has been replaced by an 8-inch touchscreen LCD. It now only has six speakers instead of eight while the subwoofer has been removed altogether. On the flipside, the car now supports several inputs like DVD, MP3, WMA, iPod, Aux and USB among other things. It even has Bluetooth, GPS navigation and a reverse camera which was pretty useful when backing up on tight parking spaces.
Hard plastic is still seen throughout the cabin but Mitsubishi did throw in some faux carbon fiber trim pieces (finished in gloss black), along with leather inserts to lift cabin ambiance. As far as driving position is concerned, I felt right at home inside the Lancer. In my opinion, the 2016 Lancer had one of the most natural driving positions aside from the Honda CR-Z I drove a few months back.
Under the hood is the same 2.0-liter 4B11 inline-four with MIVEC. The lightweight aluminum block inline-four still pushes out 150 PS at 6,000 rpm along with 197 Nm of torque at 4,200 rpm. It may be a dated motor, but don't let its age fool you as the 4B11 is virtually the same block as the Evo X engine minus the turbo-intercooler go-fast goodies.
Driving it in the city, the Lancer felt is as calm as Dr. Jekyll. Mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT), smooth power delivery was expected from the powertrain. Plant your foot on the accelerator however, and out comes Mr. Hyde. Move the transmission lever into manual mode and you have access to six simulated gear ratios to play with. Going through the 'gears' can be done via the gear lever itself, or the magnesium alloy paddle shifters.
Where the car really performed was out on expressways and curved roads. In spirited driving, the GT-A felt planted thanks to the 4-wheel independent suspension (struts at the front, multi-link at the back) that gave me confidence in taking corners at relatively high speeds. The Yokohama Advan tires were also very grippy, allowing me to make full use of the road.
Stopping power on the Lancer EX GT-A was also exceptional. The 4-wheel disc brakes were balanced just right that even under heavy braking, the nose didn't dive. As for ride quality, the Lancer has just the right amount of damping. It's not too stiff that it might break your back (figuratively), and not too soft that you feel like
The only drawback that I felt while driving the GT-A was the heavy steering. Even with the help of hydraulic power steering, driving the Lancer through turn after turn felt different compared to the new crop of electronic power steering systems. Still, the Lancer EX was still a joy to drive around town and along highways. I also wished that they fitted the Lancer with a different touchscreen system as the one currently in place felt a bit dated and was quite slow to respond to commands.
Married to a CVT, the Lancer GT-A was able to return admirable fuel consumption. Cruising along highways at a steady 95 km/h, it was able to average 14.5 km/l. When strolling around the city, that figure drops to around 9.5 km/l. In case one is faced with heavy traffic on the drive home, the Lancer will return 6.6 km/l of fuel.
Retailing for PhP 1,235,000, the top-spec Lancer EX GT-A is quite the investment, considering the refreshed car is still sitting on the same platform since 2006. It does get new features like a sunroof, touchscreen audio, updated dials and MID and the slightly redesigned exterior which again, freshens up the decade-old model.
All in all, it's a nice four-door sedan that can seat five, has a potent 2.0-liter powertrain, very good handling and an exterior design that still looks good even after ten years have already passed. The Rockford Fosgate audio system may have been bumped off but at least it now has wireless connectivity features as standard now.
But with more high tech C-segment sedans in the market, the Lancer is in a tough spot with its dated features and powertrain. Here's to hoping that the Lancer can still entice those that favor performance over standard equipment. Long live the Mitsubishi Lancer.