After nine years, the Mitsubishi Lancer EX is still rolling. But has it gathered moss along the way?
SINGAPORE — Yes, this is a new Mitsubishi Lancer EX. No, it isn’t all new, like the brochures say. Just heavily facelifted.
Can’t tell? The front end is more than a little new, with a tasteful ring of chrome surrounding the grille, and a reshaped bumper. Look for the LED daytime running lights, which are obligatory in this day and age.
Over at the back, things are much more subtle. Spotters have new taillights to keep an eye out for.
The cosmetic changes have helped the Lancer EX stay more youthful in appearance than, say, Keith Richards.
See what I mean?
The comparison is a fairly apt one, too. At 70, Richards is ancient for a rock star, just as the Lancer EX is properly elderly for a car. It’s more than nine years old, and when it first came out the first iPhone hadn’t even been unleashed on the world.
Ironically enough, that has helped in some ways. Slim headlamps were in fashion back in 2007, then became passe, only to come back into vogue again. It means that, while the Mitsubishi looks boxy by today’s standards, it doesn’t look hopelessly out of date.
Where it struggles a bit more to hide its age is on the inside. The dashboard is tidy and neat but also plasticky, while the displays look rudimentary to anyone used to newer cars.
Though there are features like auto air-con and keyless entry and engine starting, it isn’t so much well equipped as it is well accessorised. A seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system has been fitted, and though it’s a locally-sourced unit with a vanilla, Windows-based interface, it at least adds worthwhile things like a reverse camera, GPS navigation and Bluetooth phone pairing.
At 400 litres in size, the boot isn’t large by today’s standards (though a redesign to the hinge mechanism means they now intrude less into the boot itself) but at least the rear seats fold to expand the Lancer’s load hauling ability.
Still, human occupants have a decent amount of space inside, and three people could fit comfortably in the back with one caveat: only two of them will have proper, three-point seatbelts.
As for the way the Lancer EX drives, the less said, the better. It’s slow, sound insulation is poor, and there’s little tenacity to the handling. On the plus side, the turning circle is small so the Mitsubishi pulls off tight U-turns and parking manoeuvres with ease.
That said, the Lancer has the virtue of cheapness on its side. In the 1.6-litre sedan class, there’s little cheaper than its $89,999 (with COE) price tag, and its former rivals like Toyota’s Corolla Altis or the Mazda 3 have gone on to become better but more expensive cars.
There’s the Lancer’s Japanese origins, too, which bestow upon it a mark of quality that many people find comforting. The Mitsubishi may be outdated, but those who think of cars as appliances could hardly ask for better: it’s cheap, branded, easy to use and made in Japan.
That’s enough to keep a nine-year-old model going, though perhaps not implausibly so. Just ask Keith Richards.
NEED TO KNOW Engine 1,590cc, 16V, in-line 4 Power 117hp at 6000rpm Torque 154Nm at 4000rpm Gearbox 4-speed auto Top Speed 180km/h 0-100km/h 13.6 seconds Fuel efficiency 7.3L/100km CO2 171g/km Price $89,999 with COE Availability Now
PLG_AUTHORINFOBOX_FRONTEND_AUTHOR: Leow Ju-Len
Leow Ju-Len has covered cars and the car industry since 1995. If it has an engine and wheels, you can count on him to be all over it like a monkey on a banana. Ju-Len believes in rear-wheel drive, V8s and world peace.
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