Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My Lancer VRX Sportback

In My Auto Love Affair post I promised to tell you how my Lancer VRX Sportback drive and behave, so here...

Mitsubishi Motors New Zealand offer SIX Lancer variants.

Starting from the plain Jane ES Manual to the hot RALLIART Turbo, there is a choice for different drivers.

The Lancer ES (top left), the VR (top right) and the RALLIART.

The chart that show you the differences between each Lancer models. All the six models, except RALLIART; also come in hatchback form.

The VRX hatch version is known as the Sportback, Mitsubishi language.

The Look...

The first thing you notice when you approach the Sportback is the angry "snare" in that low-slung front. There is a sense of evil, as if the low slung front wanna dig it's nose into the road and blast away ;)

The narrow headlamps give the front a shark like, aggressive look; I think this is the best front that Mitsubishi has designed!

The headlamp on the VRX Sportback are of the high intensity discharge (HID) type. Not only is the light output super bright, the high beam coverage is exceptional!

Within the headlamp unit there is also a bending lamp which illuminate the road kerb as you corner! Mitsubishi call this Adaptive Front Lighting System (AFS). You can turn off this feature via a switch beside the handbrake.

Since the Sportback belongs to the VRX family, it gets a front spoiler, chunky side-skirts and a curvy, rather large spoiler at the top of the rear window.

Because of it's high sill, when reversing; I cannot see the car's tail!

This is where a reverse sensors is a must have! I got mine "thrown in" during the purchasing negotiation :) The two sensors cost NZ$421.00 to install.

The Sportback also features "Privacy glass" for rear doors and tailgate.

The tint are really dark, I doubt it can pass the paranoid Malaysia's road transport law.

The Boot...

The beauty of a hatchback is of course, the humongous carry space after you fold the rear seats!

We went and bought a second-hand solid wood coffee table two days ago and the "boot" swallowed it up easily! Try that with a sedan!

Wheels, Tyres & Brakes...

The wheels are HUGE 18" alloys. No place for boy size here! ;)

The sporty looking alloys are wearing ultra low profile (215/45R18 89W ) Yokohama Advan tyres.

Riding on 18 inch rubber, many bumps and dips in the road are passed on to the driver. The tyres also generate quite a bit of road noise, I was wondering if the high performance Yokohama are suitable for the NZ road surface.

Lancer VRX hatch came with 16" brakes instead of 14"on the lesser models.

Lancer’s large disc brakes are controlled by an Anti-lock braking system (ABS) which helps prevent wheels from locking up during hard braking.

Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD), which electronically adjusts braking force between front and rear brakes to help reduce stopping distance.

In adverse, slippery road situations. ASC or Active Stability Control senses the conditions on the road by monitoring slippage in the tyres.

Should any slippage occur, it sends power to the wheels with the most traction to keep the vehicle moving in your intended direction!

Eat your heart out, Timo Mäkinen!


The spare tyre is the skinny space saver type. A big yellow sticker warned not to exceed 80 Km when this rubber is being use.


For the Sportback, the car came with "Sport suspension" (whatever that mean). The front is sprung with Macpherson strut with coil spring and stabilizer. At the rear there is a multi-link with stabilizer.

McPherson struts in the front and an independent multi-link system in the rear make Lancer really stick to the road. A flat front sub frame eliminates flex inducing bends, allowing the suspension to do double time keeping bumps and potholes at bay.

There is a strut bar in the engine bay, this is designed to reduce the strut tower flex by tying two parallel strut towers together. This transmits the load of each strut tower during cornering via tension and compression of the strut bar which shares the load between both towers and reduces chassis flex.

For Your Safety...

To quote Mitsubishi on this, trying NOT to sound like a promotional rant :)

"Driving a performance vehicle makes safety standards all that much more important.

That’s why it’s great to know how well the Lancer stands up to crash tests with an IIHS “Best Pick” rating in frontal and offset side crash test performance, and a full five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA).

The secret behind these great results, beyond its excellent safety features, is Mitsubishi’s RISE, or Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution, which is engineered to provide structural firmness in vulnerable points during a collision.

Not only does it absorb energy and protect passengers, it actually increases the Lancer’s performance handling."

So there....

But wait! There are more! Airbags that is...

The window airbag!

"We’re sure you’ve heard of the standard six airbags -- and in Lancer we wouldn’t settle for anything less.

But as with so many things Lancer, we’ve taken this one a step further with our seventh airbag under the driver’s side dash, designed to stabilize the driver’s lower body and protect the knees in frontal collisions.

It’s another element of our comprehensive approach that looks at safety from all angles."

I knew of some Volvo models that have nine ;) and the new Mercedes-Benz 2010 E-Class will have 11 standard airbags!

The airbag that protect the knees and the aluminum brake and accelerator pedals (only on VRX models).

Open Sesame!

The VRX models came with the latest keyless entry system.

To enter the car you must have the transponder (see above pic) in your pocket. By touching either one of the front door handle and whisper "open Sesame!", you will hear a beep and the door will unlock!

This operation also work on the car boot door.

Once inside the car, you can start the vehicle by turning the "starter knob" on the right side of the steering column; WITHOUT using a key.

The "Starting knob" on the steering column.

On the event of an unlikely scenario that you can't open the door the keyless way, there is a hidden emergency key in the transponder itself.

You can remove the starter button cover and start the car by using this key

After leaving the car you are able to lock and activate the engine immobilizer by pressing the black rubber "button" on either one of the front door handles.


The VRX variants came with plush leather seats, they are firm and "smell nice"; this is the first car I own that got leathers... love it!

The front seats, all leather!

Rear seats, more leather!
You can fold down and transform the center part of the rear seat into an arm rest with cup holders.

The doors and dash of the VRX are embedded with a long strip of carbon fiber, this strip add sporty; business like look to the black plastic interior.

You can see the 6 disc cd player with AM and FM radio. The sound from this system is at least better than what I had before. But I wish I can get the wide range of accessories like they can in Australia though!

The three round dials belongs to the automatic climate air condition controls.

The comprehensive control dials for the air conditional and heater.

Steering and Instruments...

The leather wrap steering wheel with buttons galore!

The buttons for audio volume, channel and mode select.

Control for phone and MP3 connection

The Multi-Information Display panel franked by the speedometer and tachometer.

The following information are included on the multi-info display:

Warning, odometer / tripmeter, service reminder, engine coolant temperature, fuel remaining, outside temperature, selector lever position, average and momentary fuel consumtion, driving range, average speed and meter illumination.

By cycling through the multi-info display I can get various information on the vehicle. This display inform me there are 3 months or 4,200 km before my next service; that my car had done 10,865 km; the gear selector is in "Drive" and the outside temperature is a cool 15C.

Here the fuel computer calculated at an average speed of 58 km/hr, the consumption of my drive is 8.9L/100 km (26.4 mpg).

One display I find very useful is how far I can drive with fuel left in my tank. Here I was told that I can travel another 340 km before I need to fill up.


My VRX Sportback came with, wait for this!

INVECS-III Sports Mode 6CVT (Intelligent & Innovative Vehicle Electronic Control System III) automatic transmission.

Phew! Why can't they just call it like what the German did, a Tiptronic gear box?

The beauty of the CVT is that "gear change" is seamless because technically there are no gears involved!

How the CVT work!

The VRX CVT allow you to go into so call "sports mode" where by you are able to shift up and down gears really fast without a clutch. Of course you can also shift like Michael Schumacher by using the two alloy paddle shift, just like on a F1 car!

The magnesium paddle shifter. Just like F1! Seamless power delivery!

The Engine...

Sitting snugly in the engine bay is the 2.4 L banger with MIVEC (Mitsubishi’s Innovative Valve Timing Electronic Control).

According to Wikipedia, the characteristic of the 4B12 engine are...

"The cylinder head intake and exhaust ports and intake and exhaust manifolds are shape optimized for better volumetric efficiency.

Mitsubishi lowered the friction of the engine by including elastic grinding of the valve stems, adopting a high-efficiency shroud equipped plastic impeller in the water pump and using 0W-20 low-viscosity oil.

They also increased the combustion efficiency by optimizing the design of the cylinder head intake and exhaust ports, by incorporating the MIVEC system on both intake and exhaust valves and by using injectors that give an ultra micro droplet fuel spray.

To lower the engine's weight, Mitsubishi used die-cast aluminium for the cylinder block, plastic for the cylinder head cover and intake manifold, and stainless steel for the exhaust manifold.

The engine features a compact balancer shaft module with an integrated oil pump. A silent chain is used to drive the camshafts.

The compact balancer module, the silent chain, the stable combustion yielded by the intake and exhaust MIVEC system, and high rigidity designs for the cylinder head and cylinder block realize low vibration and noise."

The engine is a strong performer, it respond immediately to the throttle and power came strong and fast! This is where my previous 2.0L car lost out badly!

The Sportsback charge up my dairy Ngauranga Gorge ascent with silky ease, my previous car was struggling up on "select 3", breathless!

The Sportsback brought back my long forgotten spirited driving and the satisfaction it provide is priceless!

You got to watch your speedo constantly though, it is oh so easy to shoot past the 100 km/hr limit ;)

How Much?

The Lancer VRX Sportback cost NZ$40,890.00 NEW.

Lets not kid ourself, I CANNOT afford that kind of indulgence! After all, I am only a poor scanning technician ;)

My friend and colleague Martin Smith told me about this blond beauty at Mexted Motors, Tawa; near where I work. Just before the New Year.

The "Gold" colour (actually it is more like champagne) VRX Sportback was a dealers car that had 10,000 km on the clock, because of that; I got it at a bargain price of $31,000.00 (and with a full tank of petrol and a reverse sensors thrown in)!

What more, I was offered a good trade-in for my work horse, so after just one short test drive and with blessing from my General; we bought the car!

Oh... I forgot to mention, the sales guy; Ian is a real charmer too :)

By the way, the Sportback cost MORE (32,490.00 AUD = 42,000.41 NZD) in Australia!

Phew! That is a LONG report! I hope you enjoy reading it and excuse me while I go for a sprint in my Lancer VRX Sportsback!

Famous Last Words...

My Malaysian friends told me, "So what lah, we also got the NEW Proton Inspira what! That is also a Lancer!"

Yes, the Inspira is basically a re-badge Lancer of sort.

But look at what Proton done to the front! It make the aggressive and sporty looking front of the Lancer clunky and old school! Won't all that angular treatment screw up the aerodynamics?

Which one look more streamline, sporty and more appealing?

I learn that three variants of the Inspira will be produced at Proton's Shah Alam plant: 1.8-litre Manual, 1.8-litre CVT Automatic and 2.0-litre CVT Automatic, with a price range of RM78,999, RM 84,999 and RM 91,999 respectively.

The top range, which is 2.0L, cost RM91,999 which convert to NZ$39,277.08!

Goodness! That is the price of a NEW 2.4 L, IMPORTED VRX Sportback here!

What more, at the monthly Malaysian average wage of RM 2,000; it will cost the buyer 46 months of his/her hard earned salary to fully pay for the car.

In comparison, in New Zealand; a average paid worker earning $2,000 a month will fully pay up a Lancer Sportback of much higher specs and performance; with only 20.5 months of his/her salary!

Why the difference? Go figure!

What do you expect when Proton have to BUY the Lancer from Mitshubishi, do their rebadging and resell it to you!

And the name, Inspira; which translated, mean "Inspire"...

Take a look at this page, straight out of the Lancer brochure!

A page from the Lancer brochure that I downloaded from the Japanese Mitsubishi web site.

Tse, tse; tse.... is that how Proton got the name for their new car? ;)

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My Auto Love Affair!

Drove Your VRX AMBULANCE Lately?!


Unknown said...

Wow, is that how you got such a great bargain for this awesome car........ to do a positive write up on it for Mitsubishi??hahaha
Great car though...even my mum said it was very smooth and comfortable!!

Unknown said...

I didn't know CY was such a petrol head
chris B

chinaputera said...

Well done CY, I am across this after seeing your photos using the 7 to 14 mm and went out to buy one.
Thanks.... hope I have some pictures to talk about.

Photoshop Image Editing Tips said...

Beautiful car! We believe power of thoughts.
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