Mitsubishi's compact Lancer gains a new hatchback version for the 2010 model year. Dubbed the Lancer Sportback, the hatchback is offered with a choice of four-cylinder engines — one of them turbocharged — and hits dealerships in late summer 2009. Competitors include the Subaru Impreza and Mazda3.
Offered in GTS and performance Ralliart trim levels, the Lancer Sportback retains the general design cues of the Lancer sedan in front, but it takes on a different look when you move to the car's rear. The Sportback's liftgate is raked forward at an aggressive angle for a hatchback, and the overall look is a little ungainly from some angles. A rear spoiler near the roof finishes off the design.
Like the regular Lancer, the Sportback has room for up to five people in two rows of seats. The big difference between the two cars is in their cargo areas. Even though the Lancer sedan is available with an optional split-folding backseat to increase luggage space beyond the trunk, the shape of the car still determines to some extent what you can fit into the cargo area. With the Sportback, some of those restrictions aren't there because of its open cargo area, which has a maximum volume of 52.7 cubic feet. Available features include a Rockford Fosgate audio system, navigation system and Recaro sport seats.
Under the Hood
Front-wheel-drive GTS models are powered by a 168-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder that works with a five-speed manual or a continuously variable automatic transmission, which includes shift paddles on the steering wheel.
The all-wheel-drive Ralliart offers considerably more power. It features a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 237 hp and 253 pounds-feet of torque. This engine pairs with a six-speed, twin-clutch transmission that also lets the driver control shifts via steering-wheel paddles.
Standard safety features include antilock brakes, side-impact airbags for the front seats, side curtain airbags, a knee airbag for the driver, and anti-whiplash front head restraints.