The move sees the Japanese brand consolidate its entire Lancer hatchback range - which previously consisted of the entry-level ES ($19,990), mid-level LX ($23,990) and top-end VRX (pictured; $29,990) lines - to a sole model variant with many of the features previously found in the flagship VRX, but at a considerably lower price.
The new Lancer GSR will be fitted with a 2.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine producing 125kW of power at 6000rpm and 226Nm of torque at 4100rpm. It's available with the choice of a five-speed manual or optional CVT automatic (which adds $2250 to the price, for a $25,240 sticker). Fuel use is rated at 8.8 litres per 100km for the manual and 8.9L/100km for the CVT.
Its comprehensive standard equipment list includes 18-inch alloy wheels, sports suspension, a sports body kit with Ralliart-style front grille, side skirts and rear spoiler, a 6.0-inch touchscreen with Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, climate control, sports seats with cloth trim, auto headlights, auto wipers, tinted windows, a reverse-view camera and seven airbags. Compared with the VRX, it only misses out on sat-nav and a nine-speaker stereo.
Mitsubishi Motors Australia head of corporate communications Shayna Welsh told CarAdvice the move is part of a rethink of the Lancer line-up.
"The Lancer Sportback range has been updated to reflect the changing needs of the market as more and more customers are looking for additional features and strong visual appeal at every price point," Welsh said. "As a result, we've refined the hatch line-up to capitalise on the sporty character of Lancer Sportback and give it a distinct image separate from sedan."
If the GSR name seems familiar, that's because Mitsubishi has branded a number of sporty Lancer models as such in the past and is most commonly associated with Mitsubishi's high-performance Lancer Evolution models.
More Lancer range changes will soon follow, according to Welsh.
"The introduction of the Lancer Sportback GSR is the first of a number of changes we're making to the Lancer range, which will be rolled in out in the coming weeks," she said.
It's not the first time Mitsubishi has shaken up its Lancer range. The brand has made changes to its small car range on a yearly basis, the most recent of which occurred in August 2013.