Announcing the new model today, Mitsubishi said the new Lancer Aspire was designed to widen the appeal of the Lancer range, which includes three well-equipped sedans and the giant-killing Lancer Evolution performance sedan, and bring a fresh level of prestige and performance to the small-car segment.
Mitsubishi isn’t just targeting the Large Car segment buyers who are moving into something more compact, they are also pitching the Lancer Aspire at the medium segment, pointing out that on performance and size, the Lancer is close to a lot of medium size cars, such as the Mazda6, Honda Accord Euro and Ford Mondeo.
Mitsubishi’s passenger vehicle product planning manager, Chris Maxted, said a new 2.4-litre engine, generating 125kW of power at 6000 rpm and 226Nm of torque at 4100 rpm, meant the Lancer Aspire provided the perfect solution to drivers downsizing from larger, less fuel efficient vehicles – especially those who wanted to maintain high levels of spirited driving performance without breaking the bank when refuelling.
Mr Maxted, said the Lancer Aspire 2.4-litre sedan represented a real opportunity for the company in the still-increasing small-car segment.
“We have found that up to 32 per cent of our new Lancer customers are coming to us from both mid- and large-sized passenger vehicles,” Mr Maxted said.
“While they don’t wish to give up the luxuries of a richly appointed cabin or an energetic engine response, they do recognise the need to conserve their resources – and that’s where the Lancer Aspire 2.4-litre sedan is a perfect match.”
The new 2.4-litre engine also powers the Outlander and comes from the same '4B' family as the 2.0-litre engine in the existing Lancer range.
Mr Maxted told CarAdvice this meant it was not difficult to gain approval from Mitsubishi in Japan for the Australia-only Aspire, and he added that the Aspire name was chosen at Mitsubishi Motors Australia Limited's headquarters in Adelaide, but had some Mitsubishi history to it.
To develop the new Aspire MMAL has taken to 2009 Lancer VRX, removed the rear spoiler and alloy pedals, added unique chrome highlights to the grille surround, beltline and bootlid, blacked-out tail light bezels and HID headlights with adaptive cornering facility.
On the inside, the Aspire is fitted with woodgrain and leather trim, lidded bins for the centre console and a Rockford Fosgate six-disc CD audio system with a 10-inch subwoofer in the boot.
For a limited time, Mitsubishi is offering the new car with its new, Mitsubishi Multi Communication System (MMCS) information/entertainment system free of charge, normally a $2400 option - or a $4000 packaged with a sunroof.
MMCS provides satellite navigation, mobile phone control, iPod integration and audio system control through a large touch screen in the centre fascia.
The Lancer Aspire’s standard specifications include a host of safety and comfort features such as Automatic Traction & Stability Control, ABS brakes with EBD, seven SRS airbags, rain sensing wipers and dusk sensing headlamps, “Smart” key entry, climate controlled air-conditioning, electric windows, Bluetooth connectivity and steering wheel mounted paddle-shifters for the standard Continuously Variable Transmission.
Mr Maxted said Mitsubishi had introduced the Lancer Aspire to conquest buyers currently fleeing the Large Car segment, many of whom were private customers, although he indicated that increasingly the company expected to see company and lease buyers also joining these ranks.
He told CarAdvice that many of these buyers wanted a level of luxury and equipment that they were used to in a large car, plus good performance, while seeking reduced fuel consumption. Mitsubishi quotes the car as having an official ADR Combined Cycle fuel consumption of 8.5-litres/100km.
He said Lancer Aspire was aimed at meeting these requirements and added that as a bonus the Lancer Aspire had a better power-to-weight ratio than the major Medium Car contenders, Ford Mondeo Zetec, Honda Accord Euro, Mazda6 and Toyota Camry.
Priced at $33,990, the Lancer Aspire compares favourably with similarly priced variants of those cars in every way, except physical size.
However, according to Mitsubishi, the Lancer currently approaches the dimensions of the first generation Mitsubishi Magna.
Mitsubishi was careful to describe the Lancer Aspire as a ‘premium’ model not a luxury model as it rides on the 18-inch alloy wheels and suspension from the more sporting VRX and as such the company does not consider it will provide a driving experience to warrant a “luxury” tag.
The Aspire will also only be available as a sedan, as Mitsubishi believes the buyers will be more conservative and therefore different from those who will be attracted to the Lancer Sportback which is due to be released in the next two months.
The Lancer Aspire will be available in a number of colours from the Lancer line-up palette, including Cool Silver, Effect Grey, Red Metallic, White Solid, Black Mica and Champagne and comes with Mitsubishi’s five year/130,000 whole vehicle warranty, backed up by its 10 year/160,000 km powertrain warranty and a five year/unlimited km roadside assistance package.
The Mitsubishi Lancer Aspire will be available in showrooms from September 22 and CarAdvice will bring you driving impressions of the car just as soon as we can road test one.