Today Mitsubishi Motors North America announced a summer arrival for the five-door version of the Lancer sedan, to be named the 2010 Lancer Sportback. They say it will "meld high performance and progressive design with an extra dose of utility." MSRP will be announced closer to the vehicle's release.
The Lancer Sportback will come in two trim levels; the economy-minded GTS and the performance-oriented Ralliart. Mitsubishi claim that small five-doors such as the Sportback have "considerable upside potential in the domestic market." That's marketing speak for the sudden shift from big, heavy SUVs to smaller, more economical hatches.
The design is all-new from the C-pillar rearward, and all current Lancer from that point forward. The hatch, or "rear door," is sloped and bespoilered with a roof wing. It's a shame they chose such a steep rake for the hatch; a lot more cargo room could've been created with a more upright profile. Overall vehicle length stretches just behond that of a Lancer sedan, but as is true for all wagons, cargo space is increased, especially when the 60/40 split rear seats are folded flat. An interesting twist is the Sportback GTS' sinking cargo floor, which lowers three inches to yield 52.7 cubic ft. of cargo space.
2010 Mitsubishi Lancer SportbackEnlarge Photo
Architecture, suspensions, engines, and transmissions closely mimic the Lancer sedan. That means a base 2.4-liter, 168 hp, 167 lb-ft four-cylinder in the GTS paired with either a five-speed manual or a CVT. The Ralliart gets the punchy MIVEC turbo four that cranks out 237 hp and 253 lb-ft torque. It also gets all-wheel drive (AWC in Mitsu-speak) with an active center differential to continually monitor the apportioning of all that torque. The cool twin-clutch automated manual, shared with the mighty Evo and manipulated by steering wheel-mounted paddles, is the sole transmission for the Ralliart.
In typical car-biz fashion, the coolest features find their way only onto the concepts and one-off racers; racing Lancers Sportbacks competed in the 2009 Dakar rally with clean diesel engines, bio-fuel capability, and plant-based polymers for certain body panels.