Essentially a “productionized” version of the acclaimed 2005 Concept-Sportback show car, Lancer Sportback was designed for Europe where the 5-door format is so popular (75% of the C-segment, EU-Top 5 figures), albeit in a sports hatch form that would suit Mitsubishi’ positioning better rather than the traditional and purely functional hatchback shape.
At 458.5 cm (vs. 457 cm for Lancer Sports Sedan), it combines style and presence with (enough) flexibility (adjustable cargo floor height, rear seats auto-folding function,…) rather than pursuing the biggest interior volume (from 288 l – or 344 l when cargo floor is in the low position - to 1,394 l – VDA measures).
Mirroring Lancer Sportback’s aspirations, its sporty wedge-like profile, sharply chiselled lines, assertive stance born from long wheelbase / wide track proportions, its high-shouldered rear end and its very expressive rear roof spoiler will embody Mitsubishi’s vision for a flexible sports hatch in the C/D sector, away from the traditional hatchbacks.
Shark & Jets
As a result, in terms of design, Lancer Sportback introduces a further variation of Mitsubishi’s trademark “Jet Fighter” grille (full shape, matt black finish, chrome surround).
First used in twin grille form with Lancer Sports Sedan, the “Jet Fighter” front face introduces a sharp new visual identity for the Brand, as proved with the next generation Colt unveiled alongside in Paris.
Present from the very early stages of Lancer’s design development in 2003, the so-called Jet Fighter grille takes its inspiration from the air intake of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.’s F-2 close support jet fighters
At the rear, it follows the same design theme explored in 2005 with Concept-Sportback with a very fast lift-gate surmounted by Sportback’s distinctive “roof wing” (color-keyed and standard for all variants).
Indeed, just as its notchback siblings, Lancer Sportback is meant to be as distinctive from the rear as from the front, adding a dash of flexibility and distinction to their well-received shape:
Here as well, the solid structure of the side shoulder sweeps from the headlamps all the way back into the very fast lift-gate (58 °) surmounted by Sportback’s signature (and standard) “roof wing”. Attached either side of the backlight, this open wing creates a stable flow in the wake region: as a result, the aerodynamic drag and rear lift are reduced by preventing vortex generation on the tailgate.
In-between, the clean, creased surfaces of the front sweep into the side profile, with its dynamic daylight opening and high, wedged, belt-line. Running from the protracted inverted-slant nose, the silhouette then flows over the smooth roof line and the truncated rear end.
Carefully positioned to achieve an aesthetic balance with the tallish stance of the car, the high-set belt line imparts a tension and a dynamic sense of energy to contrast with the panel surfaces and the mix of light and shadow they project.
Combined with the distinctive shark nose, the long wheelbase, the large and rounded wheel arches and the fastback tail, the overall “wedge” effect is of a road-hugging stance that hints at the car's dynamics.
Adding to that effect, the prominently flared fenders recall the brand’s rally heritage and, particularly on the Ralliart versions and on the highest trim levels of Sportback emphasize the 18-inch alloy wheels in the overall sleek side silhouette.
Elongated rear combination lamps widen the stance of the car as they warp around the rear fenders. A feature on their own, they sign a neat bumper/fender shut line that runs exactly parallel to the rear door opening.
The right size
Developed from the outset as a full-fledged 5-door sports hatch, Lancer Sportback offers a very well balanced profile adding further credibility to its “aspirational” positioning.
At 458.5 cm (i.e.: 1.5 cm longer than Lancer Sports Sedan) though, it sits de facto right in-between the European C- and D-segments offering an appealing blend of sporty styling and roomy interior all within reasonable dimensions.
This packaging takes into account European and US markets, with ample overall width and height without any undue stretching of overall length resulting for instance in an effective use of the interior space with for instance, an overall interior length is of 171.5 cm.
Furthermore, fulfilling the flexibility brief of the sports hatch format, Lancer Sportback offers:
60:40-split rear seats to create a flexible full flat cargo area (minimum length: 137.9 cm).
Adjustable cargo floor height allowing the choice between maximum cargo capacity or flat load floor when both rear seats are folded.
Cargo capacity ranges from 344 l (w/o subwoofer) to 1,394 l with both rear seats folded (VDA measures).
One-touch rear seats auto-folding function, similar to the system used in Outlander.
Closed companion boxes either side of the trunk (except when sub-woofer is mounted).
Access hatch to Active Center Differential maintenance oil for added convenience and better looks.
Using a name first seen on a Mitsubishi Motors product in the United States in 2003, Lancer Sportback will be launched in Europe during the Fall of 2008, sharing most of its drivetrain with the 4-door Lancer Sports Sedan.
This includes a range of 2 engines (1.8 / 143ps and 2.0 Diesel / 140ps), 4 gearboxes (5 M/T, 6 M/T, 4 A/T, “stepped” 6 speed CVT) as well as a finely tuned chassis:
Front suspension: MacPherson struts, coil springs and flat shaped stamped and highly rigid steel cross member.
Rear suspension: multi-link independent set-up.
Available sport-tuned chassis:
Thicker stabilizer bars (+1 mm, from 20mm to 21mm),
Different spring/shock damping rates,
Front tower strut bar to enhance lateral rigidity for precise steering response,
18-inch wheels fitted to 215/45 R18 tires (availability according to models & markets).
Properly weighted hydraulic power rack-and-pinion steering system with the added benefit of a tight turning circle (5.0 m).
Braking system: 15’’ front discs & 14’’ rear discs, complemented by ABS, EBD, MASTC (ESP + T/C) and Brake Assist (availability according to models & markets).
Full safety package
Competent on road, the new Lancer Sportback – like all Lancers - also provides its occupants with a safe environment in case of an accident through one of the most comprehensive safety packages in the segment including a full set of up to an equivalent of 9 airbags (availability according to models & markets):
2 advanced dual front airbags for the driver and front passenger with occupant sensors, their inflation pressure being controlled to match the severity of the impact.
2 Standard front seat-mounted side-impact airbags,
2 Side curtain airbags, (Note: curtain airbags can be counted as 4 as they protect front passengers and rear passengers, this brings the 7 actual airbags to an equivalent of 9).
1 Driver’s knee airbag deploying in the initial stage of an impact to protect the lower limbs. By restricting the movement of the lower body, it increases the effectiveness of the seatbelt pre-tensioner and of the airbag.
As a reminder, Lancer was engineered with a target of 5 EURO-NCAP stars (tested internally).
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