The Mitsubishi Sportback tries to mix utility with performance, and it seems to be on the right track. Based on the sporty Lancer sedan, the Sportback gets a hatchback for more space without shedding its distinctive styling. As you would expect, the hatchback enables more cargo to be stuffed in when compared against the Lancer sedan.
The base ES level enters its sophomore season riding along with the Sportback and makes the Lancer more competitive among other hatches. The model levels now tally a grand total of three with the ES joining the GTS and Ralliart. The Fuse voice-activation system also returns for its second year in the Sportback.
The biggest drawback with the Sportback is the interior, which drags it down a few notches. Hard plastics run rampant but, Fuse sidesteps a normally frustrating media console with its more modern interface. The Lancer Sportback is worth considering if you're in the compact car market, but we recommend you check out the competition before making the jump.
Body style: Hatchback
Engines: 2.0-liter inline-4, 2.4-liter inline-4
Transmissions: five-speed manual, continuously variable transmission
Models: ES, GTS, Ralliart
No changes have been reported to the Lancer Sportback for the 2012 model year after the ES trim was added for 2011.
The Sportback comes in three different trims, ES, GTS, and Ralliart. Sixteen-inch wheels carry the base ES down the road and lower body panel extensions add an exotic look. The GTS rolls along on 18-inch alloy wheels, a sport tuned suspension, and aerodynamic accents. Other aerodynamic and aerodynamic tweaks can be made to the ES model along with the optional alloy wheel package setup which includes 16-inch alloy wheels and rear disc brakes in place of drums. A Touring package can be slapped onto the GTS and Ralliart which includes xenon headlights, a sunroof, and a small rear spoiler.
Where the bold exterior design gives off the sense of being the bully when you first lay eyes on it the interior quickly undoes all of that. A steering wheel that doesn't telescope will provide comfort issues for taller drivers but the rear seats are comfortable. Legroom is plentiful in back as well. The rear seats also fold flat in a 60/40 split to fit larger cargo. Mitsubishi's voice-activated system dubbed Fuse rides along with the Lancer for 2012 and offers features similar to Ford's Sync system.
Performance & Handling
The baseline ES drums up motivation from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that serves up 148 horsepower. The GTS gets upgraded to the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine responsible for 168 horsepower, and both engines are mated to a five-speed manual transmission, with a continuously variable transmission an available option. Paddle shifters mounted on the back of the steering wheel will put the CVT into a fixed "gear." The Ralliart features a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 spitting out 237 horsepower and is paired to an automated dual-clutch manual gearbox. Same rules apply with paddle shifters controlling the Ralliart's gearbox, except the gears are real, not simulated.
Standard safety features for 2012 include front-seat side, full-length head curtain, and a driver knee airbag. Stability control along with anti-lock brakes is also standard. Four-wheel disc brakes bring the GTS and Ralliart to a halt and the ES gets rear drums.
EPA Fuel Economy
ES: 24-25 mpg city/32 mpg highway
GTS: 22-23 mpg city/29-31 mph highway
Ralliart: 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway
- Hatchback utility
You Won't Like
Ralliart price tag
Mitsu's other star child
If You Like This Vehicle
- Volkswagen Golf
Kia Forte Hatchback