While DE and ES models are strictly cheap wheels—and they handle reasonably well though not with much verve—the GTS has slightly higher aspirations. It gets larger wheels, a firmer suspension, and upgraded braking to put the driving experience pretty much on par with the turbocharged Ralliart—minus the extra power, of course. The result is a car that's considerably more entertaining to drive. Unfortunately, it also results in more road noise and a somewhat stiff, jiggly ride.
A 152-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine provides power for Lancer DE and ES models; with it, performance is perky with the five-speed manual and just acceptable with the continuously variable (CVT) automatic. Sporty GTS models step up to a 168-horsepower, 2.4-liter four, and CVT versions receive magnesium steering-wheel paddle-shifters with six simulated gears to suit high-performance driving.