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Motoring: Mitsubishi makes a great deal

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | April 13th, 2009

A few weeks ago, I featured the Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart, which turned out to be one of the best cars I have ever come across.

Everything about it was incredible, from the way it goes forward, to the way it goes around corners. I like it so much, I would actually consider buying one, if I need to change my own car. However, if you are in the market for a new car and can't quite stretch to buy a car that starts around the $34,000 mark, there is an alternative, well sort of anyway.

You see, with a starting price of just $22,998, you can get yourself into a Lancer GTS. Sure it won't have a turbo-charged engine, or all-wheel drive, or those amazing Recaro seats, but you do get a car that looks almost like the Ralliart version, and if you tick the option box for the CVT automatic transmission ($1,300), you will get paddle-shifters too, so you can pretend that you have a car with a dual-clutch gearbox.

Having control over gear ratios is certainly fun to have, although I wish it had a more entertaining engine attached to that gearbox. With the Lancer GTS, you get a naturally aspirated 2.4-litre, MIVEC, inline four-cylinder engine. It produces 168 hp and 167 lb/ft of torque. The numbers sure sound potent enough, but in reality the car doesn't seem as fast as its figures might suggest. But don't think it is unbearably slow, it isn't, just perhaps by comparison to the Ralliart version, the GTS feels slower.

However, with a combined weekly fuel-consumption of 10-litres/100km during my week, the GTS certainly is more frugal than the Ralliart, so some plus came out of this drive train.

The GTS won't handle like the Ralliart either, because it is just front-wheel drive and the suspension setup is much softer, so while it is more comfortable, it won't encourage you to carve up a mountain pass.

In all fairness, compared to its real world competition like the Mazda3, the Honda Civic, the Suzuki SX4 and the Toyota Corolla, the Mitsubishi Lancer GTS is not bad at all, perhaps even better than most.

It's interior is certainly better than most. I liked the supportive seats, I like the instrumentation, and I really liked the 650-watt Rockford Fosgate sound system, which came in a pricey package that included leather seats and a sunroof for $2700. If you spec it all up, like my test car, the GTS came up to a whopping $26,998, and that doesn't include the destination and delivery charges or taxes.

So it is quite pricey to be honest and in a market place where cars are getting cheaper, there are lots of bigger cars you can get for the same amount of money.

In its segment, the Suzuki SX4 is the best value, although it doesn't have as much power on paper, and the new Mazda6 with the four-cylinder engine is about the same price and is a much bigger vehicle.

But don't count out the Lancer GTS just yet because it is a nice car that is also nicely equipped. Plus Mitsubishi does have the best warranty in the business, five year 100,000km bumper to bumper and a 10-year 160,000km power train, so if you are looking to buy a car to keep, this is the best deal in the country.

Would I buy one? Let's just say, I'll keep saving up until I can afford the Lancer Ralliart version.
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