The Mitsubishi Lancer went into production in the year 1973 and remained in global circulation till 2017. Manufactured as a compact car, the Lancer has been marketed around the world under different names, including Colt Lancer, Chrysler Lancer, and the Mitsubishi Mirage, to name a few. Since 2007, the Lancer has been sold under the brand name of Mitsubishi Galant Fortis in the Japanese market.
From the date of its initial production up until 2008, Mitsubishi has sold more than six million units of the Lancer around the world. In total, the car manufacturer created nine generations of the vehicle, excluding the current version that remains in production only in the Taiwan and mainland China markets.
The First Generation (1973-1979)
The compact Lancer came out in February of 1973 as a compact vehicle that filled the gap between the much larger Mitsubishi Galant model and the smaller Minica vehicle. Four body styles were offered as part of the Lancer, including 2- and 4-door sedan, 2-door coupe, and 5-door station wagon. Various engine specifications were introduced, including three engines with 1.2L, 1.4L, and 1.6L capacities.
In Australia, this Lancer was released under the brand name of Chrysler Valiant Lancer. A hatchback version was released in 1975, called the Lancer Celeste (Chrysler Lancer in Australia), which was a 4-door vehicle with a 1.4L and 1.6L engine capacity. A 2.0L engine was added at a later time as well. The Celeste was updated in 1978, receiving square headlights and bumpers that were bigger and boxier.
The Chrysler Lancer remained in the Australian market between 1974 till 1981. The following powertrains were introduced during this time:
- Coupe, Sedan - EL, GL - 1.4L petrol engine, 3-speed automatic transmission & 4-speed manual gearbox - 69 kW, 123 Nm
- Hatchback - GL - 1.6L petrol engine, 3-speed automatic transmission & 4-speed manual gearbox - 75 kW, 137 Nm
The Second Generation (1979 - 1987)
The new Lancer received major upgrades in terms of appearance, sporting a more European look compared to the previous generation. It was also more spacious than earlier models. Two petrol engine options were offered as part of the second generation, which had 1.4L and 1.6L capacities. Mitsubishi cars used the carburettor system in the past but now used a newer MCA-JET system which improved emission standards of the vehicle.
Another major upgrade was the installation of the Silent Shaft Technology in the Lancer, which reduced the vibration and the noise created by the engine and allowed for a smoother experience. In 1980, the range received a new 1.8L engine, with a turbocharged unit introduced that same year as well.
This generation of the Lancer did not make it to Australia, as Mitsubishi decided to launch the Colt instead.
The Third Generation (1988 - 2000)
The third generation of the Lancer was derived from the Mitsubishi Mirage, a subcompact vehicle. The Mirage entered the market in 1978, selling as the Lancer Fiore in the Japanese market. Mitsubishi later removed the Fiore name from the Lancer and reintroduced the Lancer in the Australian market in 1988.
The following powertrain information pertains to the third generation Lancer, as introduced in Australia:
- Hatchback, Sedan, Coupe - GL, GLX, GLi, SE, SX - 1.5L petrol engine, 5-speed manual gearbox, 3-speed and 4-speed automatic transmissions - 56-71 kW, 110-133 Nm
- Hatchback - GSR, GLXi - 1.6L petrol engine, 5-speed manual gearbox & 4-speed automatic transmission - 77-90 kW, 134-144 Nm
- Sedan, Coupe, Wagon - MR, VR-X, GLXi, ELi, GLi, Executive - 1.8L petrol engine, 5-speed manual gearbox & 4-speed automatic transmission - 86 kW, 161 Nm
- Sedan - GSR (4WD) - 1.8L petrol engine, 5-speed manual gearbox - 145 kW, 255 Nm
- Sedan - Exceed, LS, VR-X - 2.0L petrol engine, 5-speed manual gearbox & 4-speed automatic transmission - 92 kW, 173 Nm
The Fourth Generation (2000-2007)
In Australia, the fourth generation Lancer was launched in 2002 and was called the CG series. It was facelifted in 2003 and called the CH series afterwards, with a significantly improved VR-X model. Mitsubishi also introduced a new version of the Lancer wagon in 2004, which replaced the previous wagon that was launched back in 1992.
In 2005, Mitsubishi decided to upgrade all Lancer models to a new engine that had a capacity of 2.4L, which delivered 115 kW of power and 220 Nm of torque. The interior of the existing models was also upgraded, with both the LS and ES variants receiving an all-black interior while the VR-X got an upgraded black grille. The equipment installed in all the vehicles was also upgraded, with climate control and a new audio system in the LS and VR-X models. Mitsubishi also decided to discontinue the Exceed sedan in this generation.
The following powertrain options were made available, in addition to the ones carried forward from the previous generations:
- Coupe - LRX-1 - 1.5L petrol engine, 5-speed manual gearbox & 4-speed automatic transmission - 69 kW, 126 Nm
- Coupe - GLi - 1.8L petrol engine, 5-speed manual gearbox & 4-speed automatic transmission - 86 kW, 161 Nm
- Sedan - LRX-1 - 1.8L petrol engine, 5-speed manual gearbox & 4-speed automatic transmission - 86 kW, 161 Nm
- Sedan - ES - 2.0L petrol engine, 5-speed manual gearbox & 4-speed automatic transmission - 92 kW, 173 Nm
- Sedan, Wagon - Velocity, LS, VR-X, ES - 2.4L petrol engine, 5-speed manual gearbox & 4-speed automatic transmission - 115 kW, 220 Nm
- Sedan - Ralliart Evolution VI, Evolution IX - 2.0L petrol engine, 5-speed manual gearbox - 206 kW, 373 Nm
- Convertible - GLi Cabriolet, MR Cabriolet - 1.8L petrol engine, 5-speed manual gearbox & 4-speed automatic transmission - 86 kW, 161 Nm
The Fifth Generation (2007-2017)
This new generation of the Lancer was launched in October of 2007 in the Australian market and was called the CJ series. It was available in three trims, namely ES, VR, and VRX. The ES trim came with new features including cruise control, airbags for multiple passenger seats, and traction control. The VR model also had fog lights, rain-sensing wipers, and a CD changer with the capacity to hold six discs at once, in addition to having side airbags. The VRX had even more advanced features, including keyless entry and engine starting options, and also voice-activated controls.
Mitsubishi announced the Lancer Evolution for the Australian market in mid-2008, which came to be known as the Lancer Evolution X at a later time. A new variant called Aspire was also launched in 2008, based upon the 2009 VRX model, and it had luxury features including CVT transmission, although the VRX still came with a manual gearbox option.
The company kept launching new variants in subsequent years, including the Ralliart in 2008 and the ACTiV in 2010. Special Edition vehicles have also come and gone during this generation, like in previous generations.
In 2017, it was announced that the Lancer's production would be stopped for most global markets, excluding Taiwan and mainland China where it remains in production to this day.
The following powertrain options were introduced during this generation:
- Hatchback - ES Sportback, VR Sportback, ACTiV Sportback - 2.0L petrol engine, 5-speed manual gearbox & CVT Auto transmission - 113 kW, 198 Nm
- Hatchback - Ralliart Sportback - 2.0L petrol engine, 6-speed automatic transmission - 177 kW, 343 Nm
- Hatchback - VRX Sportback, GSR Sportback - 2.4L petrol engine, 5-speed manual gearbox & CVT Auto transmission - 125 kW, 226 Nm
- Sedan - Aspire - 2.4L petrol engine, CVT Auto transmission - 125 kW, 226 Nm
- Sedan - ES, VR, RX, Activ, SX - 2.0L petrol engine, 5-speed manual gearbox & CVT auto transmission - 113 kW, 198 Nm
- Sedan - Evolution, Evolution MR, Ralliart - 2.0L petrol engine, 5-speed manual gearbox & 6-speed automatic transmission - 217 kW, 366 Nm
- Wagon - ES, VRX - 2.4L petrol engine, 5-speed manual gearbox & 4-speed automatic transmission - 115 kW, 220 Nm
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