What is it?
A Mitsubishi Lancer, but not as you know it. The name conjures up images of turbocharged rally specials, four-wheel drifting through muddy forests. It does not conjure up images of a sensible family car, which is exactly what this 2.0-litre diesel model is.
What’s it like?
A good value, frugal and relatively well equipped family saloon. That it bears more than a passing physical resemblance to the super-heated 300bhp Evo X is a pleasant bonus.
Unfortunately, The Evo DNA is less evident on the road. The VW-sourced diesel is far more refined than it is in the Outlander soft-roader. It feels less peaky too, presumably a result of the Lancer’s commendably slender 1450kg kerb weight (a similarly powered Mondeo weighs 165kg more).
The 1968cc pump-duse unit is still a rattly old thing compared to the best common-rail units, though. It also feels a touch breathless when extended, although the 228lb ft of torque available from just 1750rpm mitigates against the need to stretch the engine out of its comfort zone.
The quality of the rest of the package is just as patchy. There’s more than enough grip, but the ride feels unsettled, working against the topography of the road rather than with it. The gearchange feels short and sporting, but occasionally notchy and unsophisticated.
Should I buy one?
Only if you like the looks of the new Evo X, but can’t afford the price or running costs, then the diesel Lancer makes a reasonable case for itself. It just about makes a case for itself as a budget alternative to a Mondeo, even if it lags behind in dynamics and quality. Just don’t expect Evo-style thrills. Or even Mondeo-style ability.