With only 120 horsepower and 2,734 pounds to move around, we didn't expect super-quick performance out of the Lancer. Mitsubishi is saving that for the day it imports the Lancer Evolution VII, the rival to Subaru's impressive Impreza WRX. For the LS version of the Lancer that we tested, we generated some rather surprising numbers, but acceleration wasn't one of them. Zero to 60 took more than 10 seconds, and the quarter-mile came closer to 18 seconds than 17. The engine feels peppier than it is. Our best effort was on the fourth run with a brake-torque start and manual shifting of the automatic. With a stall speed of 2,600 rpm and the redline at 6,000, we shifted as close to the 6,300 rpm rev limiter as possible.
Braking performance was an area that did impress, with little nose dive and short stopping distances from the front disc/rear drum combo. We achieved maximus brakingness on the first run and only added about 5 feet over the next two attempts. Stability was good and our only complaint with the ABS system was the noise it produced while in operation. A high level of buzzing is generated while in ABS mode, something not entirely unexpected in this price range of vehicle, but something we'd rather not have to listen to. Luckily, most of us don't go around engaging the ABS system at every stop, so for many owners, this will not be a major concern.
This is one area where we had no idea what to expect. Our LS came equipped with some rather small (by today's standards) 15-inch wheels and tires. And interestingly, the Lancer O-Z Rally edition wheels are the same 15-by-6 size as our LS tester with the exact same-size tires. Despite all-season Goodyear Eagle LS rubber, we turned some very good numbers through the cones. The handling is tight and precise with a solid chassis supporting a well-sorted suspension. You can feel the years of rallying coming through with each turn of the steering wheel. Neil G. Chirico