From RM 33k, the Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback is a forgotten gem of a hot hatch
CY Foong · Jul 3, 2021 12:00 PM
When you think of affordable C-segment hatchbacks in the used car market, chances are you might be thinking of the Mazda 3 Hatchback or even the Ford Focus. But there is one forgotten rival in the mix and that is the underrated Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback.
With prices starting from RM 33,000 in the used car market, is the Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback really that deserving to be on your radar?
Overview of the Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback
Sold between 2010 and 2015, the Lancer Sportback was the third addition to Mitsubishi Motor Malaysia’s (MMM) Lancer line-up. Fully-imported from Japan (CBU), it was the first and only Lancer hatchback model to be sold officially here as well.
Only one engine is available for the local-spec Sportback, a 2.4-litre 4B12 MIVEC 4-cylinder engine that produced 170 PS and 226 Nm. Power is sent to the front wheels via an Invecs-III CVT gearbox with 6-speed manual mode.
Being a hatchback, the Sportback has a large boot space that measures 1,570 mm deep and 1,395 mm wide with the rear seats folded nearly flat. That is certainly practical but don’t forget, it is still a Lancer.
Though not an Evolution, the Sportback has a very lively driving dynamic that is enhanced when you flick the paddle shifters. It truly gives out the sport in Sportback but it’s essentially similar to a Lancer sedan with a much bigger engine.
How many versions of the Lancer Sportback are there?
Though the Lancer Sportback is only available with one variant, MMM had also introduced a couple of “special editions” during its 5 years on sale.
The first was the Lancer Sportback LE that was only limited to 30 units. This version debuted alongside the normal Lancer Sportback and featured bodykits, Ralliart accessories, and Nappa leather seats.
The next was the Lancer Sportback Ralliart (RA) Edition that was launched in 2011. This was limited to 100 units and featured Ralliart visual enhancements and stickers, Nappa leather seats, and a reverse camera.
Compared to the previous generations of the Lancer, the ninth-generation Lancer is more commonly seen in Malaysia. It didn’t matter if the Lancer is an original GT/EX variant, an Inspira, or an Evo convert, there is still quite a number of support within the Lancer community.
The Sportback also stands out much more than the standard Lancer sedan as its hatchback design is unique for that generation. Plus, finding one that looks original is a bit easier on the Sportback than the sedan.
What should I look out for?
Aside from the 2.4-litre MIVEC engine, the Lancer Sportback shares the same parts and chassis as the standard Lancer sedan and the Inspira. In essence, the Sportback is generally a reliable car and the larger engine is mostly worry-free.
However, the Lancer Sportback was recalled twice in 2015 and in 2018. The 2015 recall involved the V-ribbed belt or serpentine belt that is connected to all the pulleys and the alternator outside of the engine.
Meanwhile, the 2018 recall required an inspection of the engine auto tensioner and this affected Sportbacks that were built between 2011 and 2012.
Be sure to check that the previous owner has answered the recall summons at authorised MMM service centres before purchasing the car.
That being said, the engine does suffer from the usual wear and tear. Among the issues that require attention are the radiator fan motor, ABS sensor, and the air-con compressor.
Needless to say, the engine is rarely problematic and so is the CVT gearbox. Granted, it can be a bit costly if you insist on using original Mitsubishi spare parts and there is also the high road tax (RM740) given the engine’s size.
Conclusion – Backing in or backing out?
The Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback is one of the last passenger car models offered by MMM. Prices for a decent one start around the same price as a brand-new Perodua Myvi and they are generally worry-free.
Still, if you can afford to foot the high road tax, the Lancer Sportback is actually a delight to drive and unlike its sedan twin, no one will doubt you for being a poser. It's a truly underrated gem of a hot hatch.