The 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer: High Performance On A Budget

Fri, Oct 31, 2003 - Cypress, CA. -

In 1973, a specially prepared Mitsubishi Lancer sedan won its first rally event, just months after Mitsubishi's original Lancer series made its world debut. Initially, the Lancer was a compact, sporty, affordable way for rally drivers to get into a racecar. Fast forward 30 years, and though times have changed, Mitsubishi's compact sedan still provides all the attributes that have made the Lancer name one of the most famous in modern rally racing. Time and again, the Lancer's lightweight, nimble handling, and low price tag have made it a winner.

Over the years, Mitsubishi's racing success has been due in great part to the efforts of Ralliart, the high-performance and motorsports arm of Mitsubishi Motors. So it should come as no surprise that the addition of the Ralliart badge to the Lancer nameplate is more than mere cosmetics. Previously powered solely by a 2.0-liter engine, the 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart edition adds a 162 horsepower, 2.4-liter, MIVEC (Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing and lift Electronic Control) four-cylinder engine to the Lancer lineup. The Ralliart edition also includes a sport-tuned suspension, upgraded brakes, wheels, tires and exhaust, and revised aesthetic treatments both inside and out.

"With new exterior styling that helps this car stand out and the MIVEC engine, Lancer Ralliart combines the strong performance of our popular compact sedan with Mitsubishi Motors' motor sports championship credentials, all at a price tag that says affordability and value,'' said Finbarr O'Neill, co-chairman and chief executive officer of MMNA.

GLOBAL CAR, RALLY HERITAGE

For the past 30 years, Lancer has trekked the scenic highways of Japan, bounded along the cobblestone streets of Europe, and blazed over dirt tracks from Africa to the Outback. All that mileage has given Mitsubishi plenty of time to focus on what it does best: combine economy, superb performance and solid reliability into a compact car that begs to be driven.

But even within a family of sporty and affordable cars, the Lancer stands out for its motorsports heritage. Since the first win at Australia's prestigious Southern Cross Rally, the race versions of the Lancer have laid claim to four world rally titles and dozens of first-place victories in the international World Rally Championship series. This rally-proven heritage and high-performance edge speak volumes about the genetic blueprint of the 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer.

2004 MITSUBISHI LANCER

The Lancer sedan offers a spirited, solid, and nimble ride, whether you're navigating the highway or carving up your favorite stretch of curvy road. Mitsubishi's reliable 2.0-liter, SOHC, 16-valve four-cylinder engine-which powers the LS, ES, and O-Z Rally(R) models-gives the car one of the largest displacement standard engines in its class. With a peak of 120 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 130 pound-feet of torque at 4,250 rpm, this 2.0-liter engine offers abundant low-end and midrange power. The 2.0-liter engine features an equal-length intake manifold and a camshaft whose profile is ideally suited for fattening the torque curve. A 32-bit engine management computer helps the engine respond faster while a cold-air induction system combines with freer flowing exhaust to allow the engine to inhale and exhale more efficiently.

But the new 2004 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart takes performance to another level. Equipped with a 2.4-liter, SOHC, four-cylinder engine, the Lancer Ralliart uses variable valve technology, automatically alternating camshaft profiles to optimize engine performance across the rev range. This new, high-revving, higher-displacement engine improves efficiency, reduces emissions and increases output, developing 162 horsepower at 5,750 rpm and an equally impressive 162 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm.

The Lancer transfers power to the front wheels through either a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic that features Mitsubishi's adaptive shift control system. The sophisticated IVECS-II controller tailors shift points to the individual driver, so that drivers who give aggressive throttle inputs are rewarded with faster, higher-rpm shifts, while more laid-back drivers will find smoother, lower-rpm shifts. The Lancer Ralliart's manual transmission is further enhanced with a sport-shifter assembly-borrowed from the Lancer Evolution-which provides shorter throws for improved shift action.

The Lancer sedan depends on a reinforced unibody for excellent handling, ride quality, and performance. The steel structure is strengthened where necessary to help minimize flexibility and makes certain that the car's suspension components-not the occupants' skeletal structures-absorb the road's irregularities. In addition, various structural measures such as the use of foam-filled members help dramatically reduce noise, vibration and harshness.

Lancer's suspension delivers the stable ride and handling required of a sedan while also providing a natural feel for the road. The four-wheel independent front strut and rear multi-link suspension absorbs road irregularities, but the driver is never out of touch with what's going on at the pavement. The front strut's lower control arm attaches to a flat cross member that is roughly three times stronger than those found in the previous generation of Mitsubishi's compact sedans.

At the rear, the Lancer's multi-link suspension features long upper and lower arms and control links for better wheel discipline and reduced twisting and flexing of the bushings. This suspension design yields precise handling, superior responsiveness, and excellent ride quality over a variety of surfaces. The Ralliart edition has been fitted with a red, tubular three-point front strut-tower brace which helps reduce body roll. Stiffer springs, dampers, and anti-sway bars also give the Ralliart sportier handling characteristics.

SOPHISTICATED, UPSCALE EXTERIOR

The front and rear bumpers of all Lancers have been revised for the 2004 model year, as have the hood and front fenders. The front bumper features a large air inlet that is contoured for efficient airflow management and engine temperature control. The O-Z(R) Rally and Ralliart models also feature new body side air dams and a new rear spoiler design that enhances the car's already sporty appearance. The result is a clean, uncluttered exterior design that gives the Lancer a substantial and distinctive look while helping it stand out among the compact sedan category. A new rear deck lid opens up to 11.3 cubic feet of trunk space, and a roof-mounted center radio antenna and front fender-mounted turn signals complement the overall international design theme.

The Lancer's grille (surrounded by chrome trim for the LS model) helps establish a strong and sporty front-end appearance. Aerodynamic wraparound headlights incorporate a jeweled multi-reflector surface for improved low beam nighttime visibility. For 2004, the headlamps feature bright lenses for ES and LS models, while dark lenses can be found on both the O-Z(R) Rally and the Ralliart editions. In addition, the Lancer Ralliart features unique fog lights that create another visual distinction from other Lancers.

It's the attention to detail that really helps distinguish the Lancer from its compact sedan competitors. These appealing touches include foldaway power mirrors, door latch dampers for a solid door closure feel and sound, resin bushings inserted in the door hinges for smoother operation, and convenient pull-type door handles that offer a solid grip. The result is a small sedan that looks and acts like a member of a larger, more luxurious class of sedan.

SPACIOUS, COMFORTABLE INTERIOR

That sophisticated, well-executed impression of the Lancer's exterior carries over to the inside as well. The Lancer's cab-forward design employs a tall roofline that-combined with a long wheelbase-creates a roomy cabin and ensures outstanding comfort and visibility. The shallow positioning of the instrument panel and beltline improves the driver's lines of visibility and helps to create a feeling of freedom and control for driver and passengers alike. The front and rear seats feature an elevated hip point that facilitates passenger entry and exit from the car. To kick it up a notch, the new Lancer Ralliart is equipped with front sport bucket seats that were sourced directly from the Japanese-market Lancer Evolution GT-A.

The Lancer's 102.4-inch wheelbase helps create rear legroom that's uncommonly spacious for a compact sedan. A long wheelbase combined with wheels that are located toward the corners of the car help to provide excellent stability and handling. With 93.9 cubic feet of overall passenger room (94.7 cubic feet for Ralliart), the Lancer's available interior room exceeds most of the competition and provides enough space for five adults to ride in comfort.

Upscale materials inside-from new premium fabrics to new instrument panel accents-add value and luxury without bumping up the price tag. Power windows, door locks and side-view mirrors, a height-adjustable driver's seat, CD player, auto-off headlights and trunk lamp are standard features.

By adopting some of the sound insulation technology of the upscale Diamante and Galant, Mitsubishi engineers made the Lancer quieter and more relaxing to drive. From insulation around the frame and rear wheelhouses to noise and vibration dampers on the drive shafts, these technologies work together to give Lancer a quiet ride with lower noise, vibration and harshness.

TRIM LEVEL SUMMARY

Lancer ES

The base-model Lancer ES is a well-equipped compact sedan that's loaded with desirable comforts, proving that such amenities are not the sole territory of the larger sedan classes. The list of standard features on the Lancer ES sedan includes air conditioning, power windows, power door locks, power side-view mirrors, woodgrain interior trim accents, adjustable steering column, trunk room lamp, electric rear window defroster, digital clock, 140-watt AM/FM stereo CD player with four speakers, and an eight-way adjustable driver's seat with height adjustment.

Lancer LS

The Lancer LS sedan adds more features and moves the vehicle closer to the mid-size class offerings in terms of standard equipment. For 2004, the LS comes with a standard power sunroof and leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter-items usually only found as standard equipment on much more expensive luxury cars. In addition to the new power sunroof and leather steering touch points, the list of standard features includes cruise control, remote keyless entry, 60/40 split fold-down rear seatbacks, rear center armrest with cup holders, variable intermittent windshield wipers, and a 140-watt AM/FM stereo CD player with six speakers.

Lancer O-Z(R) Rally

Mitsubishi offers an appealing model of Lancer sedan that embodies the sporty look and attitude of the Lancer rally heritage: the O-Z(R) Rally edition. In addition to the new-for-2004 styling revisions to the grille, bumpers, headlamps and clear-lens taillights, the Lancer O-Z(R) Rally edition offers the following standard features: 15-inch O-Z(R) Racing alloy wheels, side air dams, O-Z(R) Rally Edition exterior badging, carbon-like interior trim, white-face sport gauge cluster, rear spoiler, embroidered O-Z(R) Rally logo floor mats, and sport-touch steering wheel, shift knob and parking brake handle.

Lancer Ralliart

Backed by a proven rally racing heritage, Mitsubishi ups the sport-compact performance ante with the 2004 model year introduction of the Lancer Ralliart. The exterior appearance has been enhanced with a new spoiler, front and side air dams, and unique fog lights. But the mechanical improvements are where the Ralliart really sets itself apart. Stocked with a 162-horsepower, 2.4-liter SOHC MIVEC engine under its hood, the Ralliart is a showcase for affordable performance. And that performance is balanced, thanks to a number of finely tuned mechanical components, including larger four-wheel disc brakes, sport-tuned suspension, free-flowing sport exhaust, and 16-inch alloy wheels.

While additional horsepower adds speed, better braking power reduces it. The Ralliart's larger four-wheel disc brakes (10.9-inch fronts, 10.3-inch rears), equipped with antilock brakes (ABS) and Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD), help slow the Ralliart with poise.

The suspension achieves a level of performance befitting a sports sedan. The shocks and springs were tuned to allow for more spirited handling without sacrificing ride comfort. Damping rates of the front and rear shocks were significantly increased to limit body roll and weight transfer. Front spring and sway bar rates were both increased, which helps compensate for the increased engine weight. A tubular three-point front strut-tower brace that spans the engine bay helps reinforce the Ralliart's structural rigidity. The result is a sportier, more rigid chassis that's capable of handling corners with aplomb.

Inside, the Ralliart's front sport bucket seats hold both driver and passenger snugly in place. Driving enthusiasts will also be pleased with the sport-shifter assembly, which was taken directly from the Lancer Evolution.

PACKAGES

Lancer ES buyers can purchase an optional convenience package that adds remote keyless entry, 60/40 split fold-down rear seatbacks with headrests, rear center armrest with cup holders, floor mats and color-keyed door handles to the base sedan.

A preferred equipment package is available for the Lancer LS that adds control and safety with a ABS, 15" alloy wheels and dual front side air bags.

The well-appointed, sporty O-Z(R) Rally edition offers the optional power sunroof.

The Ralliart offers a Sun and Sound package which includes a power sunroof and an all-new 315-watt, seven-speaker Infinity CD sound system including a subwoofer and a custom 18-liter trunk mounted enclosure. Side seat airbags are available as a stand-alone option.

SAFETY

In addition to passenger comfort, Mitsubishi Motors engineers also set out to optimize occupant safety. Called RISE, for Refined Impact Safety Evolution, Lancer's body structure helps absorb frontal, offset frontal, side-impact and rear collision energy.

Using the latest advances in computer-aided design, the Lancer includes features such as energy-absorbing front and rear crumple zones, a reinforced passenger safety cage, sophisticated side structures and a fortified chassis to enhance protection for passengers.

Additional standard safety features include three-point safety belts for all occupants, front seatbelt pretensioners and force limiters, and driver and front passenger airbags.

Front head restraints have also been angled closer to the head, and the padded interior roof pillars have crushable ribs that help provide additional head protection in the event of a crash. Impact-absorbing foam blocks in all four doors also aid in absorbing side impact energy. And in case the doors are ever deformed by an impact, the door latch releases are activated by cables instead of rods.

Optional safety equipment includes dual front side airbags (available on the Lancer LS and Ralliart) an antilock braking system (optional on the Lancer LS, standard on the Ralliart).

WARRANTY AND MANUFACTURING

Lancer is covered by Mitsubishi Motors' standard warranty to ensure customer satisfaction, including a 3-year/36,000-mile New Vehicle Limited Warranty; a 5-year/60,000-mile

Powertrain Limited Warranty; and a 7-year/100,000-mile Anti-Corrosion Limited Warranty. Lancer is manufactured in the Mizushima plant, Korashiki, Japan.

Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc., (MMNA) is responsible for all manufacturing, finance, sales, marketing, research and development operations of the Mitsubishi Motors Corporation in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Mitsubishi Motors sells coupes, convertibles, sedans and sport utility vehicles through a network of nearly 700 dealers throughout North America. For more information, contact the Mitsubishi Motors News Bureau at (888) 560-6672 or visit media.mitsubishicars.com.