For 2006, the Mitsubishi Lancer undergoes only a few changes. There’s a restyled front fascia, with a chrome grille design on the ES and a black mesh on the OZ Rally and Ralliart; all models receive advanced air bags with passenger occupant sensors; and a security package with anti-lock brakes and side impact air bags is available for the ES and OZ Rally.

The Lancer line-up uses two four-cylinder engines: a 2.0-litre on the ES and OZ Rally, and a 2.4-litre MIVEC (Mitsubishi Innovative Valve timing and lift Electronic Control) in the Ralliart. Both engines are mated to a five-speed manual that can be optioned to a four-speed automatic.

The ES includes auto-off headlamps, fixed intermittent wipers, power mirrors, red jewelled tail lamps, 15-inch steel wheels, air conditioning, power windows and locks, and CD player with four speakers.

The OZ Rally adds variable intermittent wipers, clear jewelled tail lamps, rear spoiler, 15-inch alloy wheels, “sport-touch” steering wheel, cruise control, floor mats, 60/40 split rear seat, keyless entry and CD with six speakers.

The Ralliart adds fog lamps, front and rear air dams, 16-inch alloy wheels, front strut tower brace, short-throw shifter, aluminum pedals (with manual transmission), see-through head restraints, sport bucket front seats, side impact airbags, and anti-lock brakes.

The Lancer is a decent entry-level machine, although the two lower models are basic transportation, with little excitement. The OZ Rally is a disappointment, with a tricked-out tuner-car exterior and nothing extra under the hood to back it up.

The Ralliart is worth the price of admission, with extra horses, tight suspension and comfortable, supportive sport seats. Its close-coupled shifter is lifted directly from the legendary, U.S.-only Evolution, and its steering is razor-sharp. You may not be asked to do a guest shot in The Fast And The Furious, but you’ll definitely look forward to empty winding roads.

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