2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Aspire Sedan Review & Road Test
- 2009 Mitsubishi CJ Lancer Aspire Sedan, 2.4-litre, CVT sedan - $34,490 (RRP)
- Metallic Paint $450 (Fitted - Garnet Red); Satellite Navigation & Sunroof $1600 (Fitted)
Luxury ride, privacy glass, good storage space, five-star safety CVT lag, exposed boot ceiling, inaccurate satellite navigaiton
- by Rose Harris
Class, distinction, comfort, luxury, convenience; there are many flattering ways to describe Mitsubishi’s Lancer Aspire with a list of features as long as your arm.
Modern technology has been crammed into every nook and cranny of this car, starting with the keyless operation and moving on to the rain sensing wipers, dusk sensing headlights and the copious amount of information available through the Mitsubishi Multi Communication System (MMCS).
Truth be told I was really looking forward to taking the wheel of the Aspire, as a relative newcomer to the CarAdvice team, I was considering my allocation of the Aspire my ‘Christmas bonus’ but, as much as it pains me to say it, I was under-whelmed.
Yes, the features are there and in abundance, the luxury factor is certainly present and the Lancer does boast a 2.4-litre engine under the bonnet. Maybe it was the impractical family aspect or it could have been the fact that despite the high-tech nature of the features, they often missed the mark.
Or it could be that I am just way too old fashioned but each time I slid into those leather seats and turned the stove-like knob to hear the Aspire rumble to start the anxiety would start to creep in.
Where to I put the smart card so I don’t forget to take it with me when I get out of the car?; I really hope the kids don’t spill anything on those leather seats, and for that matter their childseats aren’t marking the interior; I really hope no stones fly up from these road works and chip the gorgeous red paintwork; will I make it over these speed humps unscathed? I hope the pram in the boot doesn’t roll into the sub woofer - my mind would spiral on with many worrying scenarios.
But let me step off the psychologist’s couch and get to the nitty-gritty. As I have already mentioned once or twice, the driver’s seat is very comfortable and while the leather interior looks and feels nice, it is adorned with pin hole-like detail which I can imagine would be awfully hard to clean.
While it may not be my cup of tea, the keyless operation is a good gimmick to boast about. The ‘smart card’ detects when you are within 70cm of the front doors and boot and the ignition can be turned on with the card anywhere in the vehicle.
It was fun to use and again amplified the modern nature of the car but I would always forget where I left it and there would be a mad scramble through the pockets, bags and the many storage spots before getting out of the car. It would be good to have a dedicated spot on the dash to put it, but then I guess you may as well just have a conventional key that goes in the ignition.
I really tried to appreciate the woodgrain finish, but I couldn’t get the image of a 1975 vinyl table out of my mind and the reflection of trees flashing past on the passenger side of the trim was quite distracting.
The front storage is great, the leather bound console has an in-built 12 volt socket, and one of the sleek slow-opening compartments under the air-conditioning controls reveals an auxiliary outlet.
The central cup holders have a clever lid that slides down to form half of the cup contour when open. The climate control works well to keep the vehicle at your desired temperature but it isn’t quiet about doing it and the whoosh of it getting cranked up is hard to ignore.
Volume control, cruise control and Bluetooth phone operation all mounted on the steering wheel add to the car’s convenient nature.
Things were equally as comfortable in the rear. The dark tint on all three rear windows made life very cool for the kids and cut down the direct sunlight on the back seat, which I found was a problem in the base model Lancer ES.
The sunroof was good entertainment for the kids; I got a good hour of peace while my two-year-old tried to spot planes. The middle seat has a drop down compartment which has two sturdy cup holders, which are a great addition.
The boot is a great size. Despite the addition of a sub-woofer, it doesn’t take over the boot like some can. The boot has a simple push-button release that is unlocked by the smart card (which is hopefully in your pocket or handbag).
However, something I couldn’t get past with the boot was the top of the space seemed awfully exposed. While you wouldn’t really notice looking straight down into the boot, when I happened to catch a glance inside, the exposed metal and wires made it look somewhat unfinished.
Continuing the fancy, sporty but sophisticated nature of the Aspire is the continuously variable-speed transmission with manual mode and steering wheel-mounted paddle gearshift. The continuous variable transmission (CVT) gearbox took a bit of getting used to.
It carried a lag that I wasn’t expecting for such a high-tech car. However, once the needle started to rise, it was easy to feel the 125kW of power thrown out by the 2.4-litre engine.
I was expecting to have a bit of fun with the paddle shift six-speed manual but in the end I found I just couldn’t be bothered as the up-down movements didn’t add as much to my driving experience as do a clutch and a floor gearshift.
As a result I mostly left it in auto and changed to manual mode only when I needed to do some overtaking. Overall though it drove really well for my purposes, the steering was very accurate making parking easy and braking was equally as responsive.
I could write an entire review based solely on the MMCS as it had so much to offer. My test on this type of technological addition is how easy it is to use without having to read the manual. This one took a bit of playing around with, but it didn’t take too much to figure out basic GPS operation, audio features and divert the phone through Bluetooth.
The GPS I enjoyed, it was very handy having a map right in front of you so you could see what the upcoming roads and features were. However, things did get a little sketchy at times. In the heart of country roads, it seemed to recognise some but not others and the ones it didn’t know, it seemed to just make up random names based on nearby towns and landmarks. In the city, I couldn’t fault the map routes around my usual haunts as well as the not-so-frequent ones.
The directional feature is powered by Whereis software and, i have to say, Whereis.com and I have had our differences in the past. In the city, again, it seemed to perform pretty well and there is always going to be room for error with road works changing so frequently.
However when I decided to take a leisurely drive to a town no more than 30km from city limits, things went very strange. While the voice directing me, let’s call her Ms MMCS, stayed polite, the same couldn’t be said for me.
She initially told me to go the wrong direction and in testing the route recalculation skills I continued the way I knew assuming the Ms MMCS would eventually get the drift and redirect me the way I was heading.
I was wrong, she continually told me to turn and head the other direction at each roundabout, even at one that didn’t exist. Then when I was at the final left turn to reach my destination, despite the map showing I was nearing the red target, she still told me to do a U-turn where possible. In the city however, it was very convenient being able to see where the nearest park or points of interest were.
The MMCS also offers a screen of information on fuel economy including distance to empty and distance travelled since last refuel. While it didn’t get a lot of use under my control, there is even a function to record laptimes, possibly of more use in the Evo X.
The seven-inch full-colour screen slides down to insert CDs or DVDs. The DVD features, as with many other potentially distracting functions, (including setting a destination) are disabled while the car is in motion.
While on the subject of safety features, the Aspire can boast five ANCAP stars. It has the full list of acronyms – ASC, BA, EBD, RISE body system, SRS airbags with knee airbags as standard, four wheel ABS and ATC. With all that at work, I didn’t have to worry about my family’s safety in the Aspire. The Xenon headlights throw out great visibility in the dark.
With so much extra on board and an extra 400cc of engine capacity over the base model Lancer, I expected the Aspire to guzzle the fuel. I was pleasantly surprised when the fuel economy hung around the 8.5 L/100km mark on the usual around town trips. It headed towards nine in peak hour, but on a long county drive the economy even dipped into the sevens.
While the luxury and technological sophistication may be a little lost on me, maybe in another life when I was a childless high-flying executive type I’d have soaked up every moment the Aspire was in my control, but it seems when you throw kids into the mix of such a luxury mobile, the worry it brings of maintain its pristine features outweigh the ability to enjoy such a car.
CarAdvice Overall Rating: How does it Drive: How does it Look: How does it Go:
- Engine: 2360cc DOHC four cylinder (16 valve)
- Power: 125kW @ 6000rpm
- Torque: 226Nm @ 4100rpm
- Induction: Multi Point
- Transmission: CVT (Automatic)
- Driven Wheels: Front
- Brakes: Discs with ABS, EBA & EBD
- Top Speed:
- CO2 Emissions: 202g/km
- Fuel Consumption: 8.5 litres/100km (Combined)
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 59 litres
- Fuel Type: 91RONpetrol
- ANCAP Rating: Five Star
- Airbags: Front, Side, Curtain and Knee (Driver)
- Safety: ESP with Traction Control
- Spare Wheel: Space Saver
- Tow Capacity: 1000kg (Tare)
- Turning Circle: 10.0 metres
- Warranty: Five Year/Unlimited Kilometre
- Weight: 1385kg (Tare)
- Wheels: Alloy 18 x 7.0-inch