On Saturday, I met up with Edmunds.com Senior Content Editor, Erin Riches, to put our cars through their paces on Little Tujunga Canyon Road (Google Maps link) for a “nice” afternoon drive in the sweltering heat and humidity. She had Edmunds’ Long-Term 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS and I had my trusty ride, “Devoted Dan” — a lightly modified 2004 Subaru Impreza WRX Sedan. Unlike the newbies (notice how they’re not leaning into the turns) in the Mitsubishi Lancer commercial above, I was not impressed by how the car drove. It’s an excellent car overall. Don’t get me wrong. It just wasn’t *that* fun to drive.
Photo: Erin Riches
Here’s the Long-Term Road Test blog entry Erin put up on Inside Line – 2007 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS: Takes on a WRX…Sort of. You can read her impressions of how the Lancer GTS drove after the jump. She was gracious enough to let me swap cars with her for one of our runs.
Here are my impressions of how the Lancer GTS drove and thoughts about the upcoming Lancer Ralliart. Please note I didn’t bother checking out the interior or thinking about its ergonomics.
Chassis – The car felt solid and well-built (the increased in structural rigidity added weight). Kudos to Mitsubishi/Dodge for beefing it up.
Engine – The car felt underpowered because of the vehicle’s mass. I think 175-200 hp would be good for the GTS trim. Noise wasn’t an issue to me as I had the front windows down during my run along the road.
Transmission – The shift throws are looooong. Shift throws were easily longer than the throws on a stock 5-speed 2008 Subaru Impreza. (My car has the OEM STI 5-speed short-shifter.) Shifts are much smoother than (as in not as notchy as) those on an Impreza 5MT.
Clutch – Pedal travel wasn’t too short or too long. The pedal effort is light.
Tires – The Dunlop SP Sport 5000M all-season tires (P215/45R18 89V) are definitely better than the Bridgestone Potenza RE92 tires that are standard on all Imprezas. They provide more grip and don’t howl loudly in protest to high cornering loads as much as the RE92s. Note: My car is not on RE92s (I have a set of stock 2006 wheels/tires at home). It is currently on Bridgestone Potenza RE-01Rs (P225/45R 91W).
Handling – The car handled fairly well and kept its composure at all times. Understeer wasn’t a problem (then again, I believe that people who complain about understeer are usually going into a corner too hot to begin with). When the back end began to hint that it wanted to jump out a bit, it would settle down soon thereafter.
Braking – Like Erin mentioned, the brakes were smelly after we had beat on them, but they never felt like they were fading badly (as in the pedal going straight to the floorboard). Initial grab was pretty good every time I applied the brakes, but the pedal was softer than I am comfortable with. In other words, I couldn’t storm into corners with the GTS like I could with my car (my 2004 WRX has been retrofitted with 2006-2007 OEM 4-pot/2-pot brakes…and Ferodo DS2500 front brake pads (they generate a lot of brake dust for anyone considering them, but are the best pad imo for combined street/track use), Goodridge stainless steel brake lines, and Motul RBF 600 brake fluid).
Steering – My only gripe with the car from my short time in it (15 minutes or so(?) on a run down the aforementioned road heading South) was that its steering was uncommunicative. I just couldn’t “feel” much of the road and what the car was doing/how it was responding to steering inputs and undulations in the road. (The leather steering wheel itself felt nice in my hands and is sized well.)
Visibility – Visibility out the front is good. When doing any spirited driving, visiblity on both sides of the driver’s A-pilar is very important to me so I can look ahead in left turns. This was an area the 2008 Subaru Impreza was worse than its predecessor because of its larger side mirrors. The rear wing didn’t affect rearward visibility when I was checking my six.
The long-term Lancer GTS is priced at $21,615. If you want the maximum amount of smiles-per-mile for this amount of dough, look elsewhere (Civic Si?). However, I think this car would be a great fun-to-drive everyday commuter vehicle given its numerous “creature features.”
If the Lancer Ralliart comes out with 230-250 hp and all-wheel drive with the number of features the GTS has, the Impreza WRX will be in major trouble. The only question remaining in my mind is: Will the Lancer Ralliart drive more like the GTS or the Evo? If the former, the folks at Subaru don’t have anything to worry about. If the latter, can everybody say, “MY2010-2011 Impreza redesign?”
Photo: Erin Riches