Driving Impressions

The bigger 2.4L four-cylinder engine provides 20 more horsepower and 22 lb-ft of additional torque over the base 2.0L engine. That’s enough to improve throttle response in low and mid-range acceleration, and provide a decent 0–100 km/h time of about 9 seconds (a 2.4L CVT-equipped Lancer Sportback tested by AJAC in 2010 reached 100 km/h in 9 seconds). However, equipped with the continuously variable transmission, the 2.4L engine’s fuel economy numbers (L/100 km) of 9.2 city/6.9 highway are considerably thirstier than the 2.0L’s 7.9 city/5.8 rating, and higher than many competitors that have smaller, more fuel-efficient engines, including the all-wheel-drive Subaru Impreza with its 148-hp 2.0L motor that delivers an impressive 7.5 city/5.5 hwy.

2013 Mitsubishi Lancer GT AWC
2013 Mitsubishi Lancer GT AWC
2013 Mitsubishi Lancer GT AWC
2013 Mitsubishi Lancer GT AWC. Click image to enlarge

Still, it’s not really fair to compare the 2.4L Lancer with 1.8L or 2.0L competitors. A more appropriate comparison is with the Mazda3 GT with its optional 2.5L four-cylinder/five-speed automatic powertrain (9.2 city/6.7 hwy) and the Volkswagen Jetta 2.5L with its standard 2.5L five-cylinder/six-speed automatic (9.1 city/6.5 hwy). Here we can see that the Lancer GT AWC’s 9.2/6.9 fuel economy is comparable for its engine size, and it has the advantage of all-wheel drive.

Both Lancer SE AWC and GT AWC models come with a standard “Sportronic” continuously variable transmission that can be shifted manually via two large magnesium shift paddles behind the steering wheel. In normal automatic operation, the CVT performs with less noise and vibration than we expected and engine rpm levels are restrained under normal acceleration. Mitsubishi has done a good job of keeping powertrain noises out of the cabin. In fact, tire noise from my car’s Yokohama Ice Guard winter tires was a bigger concern over the week that I drove the car.

The CVT can be shifted manually through six simulated gears with the large shift paddles behind the steering wheel, but unlike most paddles, they don’t turn with the steering wheel. That makes it difficult to shift while turning a corner, but in theory, you’re supposed to shift down before entering a corner, so you shouldn’t be shifting while turning anyway! Interestingly, the driver cannot shift manually with the console shifter and there is no separate shift gate for manual mode. To engage manual mode, the driver simply pulls on the shift paddles. Shift times are crisp and add to the fun of driving the Lancer in a sportier fashion, but it’s too bad Mitsubishi doesn’t offer a traditional manual transmission combined with AWC – a manual five-speed transmission is available in the front-wheel drive Lancer. To resume the CVT’s automatic mode, the driver simply pulls on the right paddle for a second or two.

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