Other posts about the new 2008 Lancer:
Lancer 2.0GT (Malaysia) - First Looks
Lancer 2.0GT (ie. GTS) launched in Malaysia
Update 5th May 2007: Press Release photos of Evo X and JDM (Japan Domestic Market) names for the 2008 Lancer (text of press release in comments below).
The 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer (pictures below) and Lancer Evolution Prototype X (left) was launched at the Detroit Motorshow on 8 January 2007.
I've got some videos below... of the launch, the promo video and walkabout tour of both cars by Mitsu's North American GM.
But first, I've got my hands on the detailed specs list of the North American 2008 Lancer. And since it is a global platform, it should be virtually identical to the next generation Lancer worldwide. So here's my specifications only review.
I actually like how it looks. A bold move that departs entirely from the styling cues of the whole Mitsubishi lineup. That is not a bad thing at all, considering how fugly the current Lancers are and how much the Colt looks like an aerodynamic piece of turd.
I really like the Lancer's nose job. It's reminiscent of the current Volvo, but it's as if Mitsu completed the job that Volvo didn't have the balls to finish. And I like that it resembles the Nissan Skyline R34's nose-in front of-headlamps styling. Since I reckon Nissan has lost the plot completely when it comes to the new GTR's upside-down ricebowl Z styling, I am delighted that the R34's spirit lives on in the Lancer.
I like the rear too, but not as much as the front though. The resemblance to the Alfa 156 is too strong for me to put aside. Too bad they didn't put the R34's dual round tail-lights on it ;p
Anyway, enough about the asthetics. Let's get on with the physics.
The first thing you notice is that the power output is not remarkable. Even with MIVEC variable valve lift & timing on both the intake and exhaust camshafts, the 4B11 (developed in conjunction with Hyundai and Daimler Chrysler but with Mitsu-specific camshafts and cylinder head for the Lancer) only develops a pedestrian 152hp.
That's not bad, mind you... considering that the new Honda Civic K20Z, Alfa 156 2.0TS and BMW 320i produce roughly the same 150-160hp. The new Camry 2.0G and Nissan Cefiro 2.0 outputs slightly less at 140+hp. So, it's respectable, but it's not spectacular by any standards.
Then you'd notice the 4B11 engine has a 86mm bore and 86mm stroke. The legendary 4G63 which served 9 generations of Lancer Evos as well as several generations of Galant VR4 rally cars - was under-square with a bore of 85mm and 88mm stroke. Why the perfectly square 4B11 after decades of rally-tested under-square 4G63?
In my opinion, the answer lies in a small tuning workshop in the heart of Kepong, Malaysia - called Forge Racing (formerly KCK Racing). It is the birthplace of the first street legal Mivec turbo engine... ever. In 2000, several years before Mitsubishi rolled out its first Mivec turbo in the Evo VIII - Forge Racing crossbred the block of a 1.8 litre 4G93 turbo and the cylinder head of a 1.6 litre 4G92 Mivec. That resulting 1.8 engine output over 300hp at 8000rpm with a boost of only 1.5bar. But what was the main lesson learnt from that little pocket rocket?
It was that if the overarching limitation on any turbo engine is [small] displacement... then more turbo boost is NOT the answer. It rapidly gets to a stage where there's too much mechanical stress, too much heat and petrol from a regular gas-station produces problems rather than power. The answer was more revs! Don't overdo the boost. Keep it sane, keep it steady and turn up the revs. The power will follow.
Squaring the engine by enlarging the bore and shortening the stroke usually means one thing... more revs. So... if Mitsu wanted more revs, then why the peak power at a lowly 6000rpm still, and low-ish compression of 10.01 from the 4B11?... My speculation... headroom.
My thinking is that Mitsubishi had basically extracted all it could from the 4G63 by playing all the turbo tweaking cards available to it. At roughly 300hp, there wasn't very much more they could do with the 2 litre warhorse without making it too uneconomical to manufacture/ warranty and too unstreetable with turbo lag, fuel consumption and inconvenient emissions. Ralliart UK's FQ320 was possibly the limit of streetability. The FQ400 was best left for the track and Sunday drives. Subaru's STi has traditionally mirrored the Evo's evolution (pun intended), and it is very telling that even they have recently migrated the STi from 2 litres to 2.5 litres.
I reckon Mitsubishi figured they needed a new high rev engine that provides room to increase power, but without the attendant downsides of excessive boost pressures and big turbines. So, in walks a perfectly square engine. The 152hp in the everyday Lancer might be just be the tip of the 4B11's proverbial horsepower iceberg. And 152hp is a very, very comfortable minimum to start from. The 4B11 turbo in the upcoming 2007 Lancer Evolution X is rumoured to have 300+hp straight out of the factory... and we'll soon see if Mitsu agrees that raising the revs is the best way to get there (since they aren't increasing the displacement).
I also strongly believe that Mitsubishi realises that it has been missing out on a lucrative mid-range performance market niche ie. the 180-250hp hot compact segment. Since the last 200hp Lancer GSR rolled off the production lines in the mid 90's, Mitsubishi has not had an answer to the Subaru WRX, VW Golf GTi, Ford Focus RS, Civic and Integra Type R, Mazda 6 MPS etc. A new baby Lancer Evo would be timely... and simple to achieve with the 4B11.
If it stays NA, raising the peak power to 7000rpm (along with 11+ compression and more aggressive cam profiles) would easily fetch an extra 30-40hp. Or bolt on a turbine, give it 0.7bar of boost and I reckon it'd easily yield 200+hp. Turbo it and raise the revs to 7500-8000rpm with a little more boost... and we'd probably be looking at the new Evo X itself.
The gearbox looks ok. Nothing special except that it utilises a CVT, which is fairly uncommon for cars of this capacity and power. CVTs are very efficient (judging from the CVT's better city mileage of 22mpg vs the 5MT's 21mpg), but they don't handle large amounts of power and torque very well. The 2006 Honda Civic 2.0 uses a torque converter (with lockup in EVERY gear) rather than a CVT, which the far less powerful 1.5 litre Honda City uses to good effect.
A couple of reviews mention that the new Lancer's CVT is 'rough' and 'uncivilised'. Maybe that's the price you pay, for a CVT to handle more power and torque. But I don't really care though... the Evo X will feature a 6 speed manual gearbox with automated clutch, and sequential paddle shift. No flaky CVT for the Evo.
The promos make a big deal about the new Lancer's 2.3 inches more track width. At the same time, it is slightly shorter than the current Lancer. But what is worth mentioning is that the new Lancer shares the same chassis as the Outlander SUV... which has more body stiffness (torsional and bending rigidity) than the current Evolution. This means this new basic Lancer is stronger and stiffer than even the current WRC homologated Evo IX. Surely, this yields significant dividends in the handling dept, no?
On the downside though, the new Lancer is much heavier. With a range of 1325-1410kgs, it is a full ~100kgs more than the equivalent 1.6-1.8L class of cars like the Civic, Sentra, previous Lancer, Corolla Altis etc. Though it is still ~100kgs shy of the 2.0-2.5L class like the Camry, Accord, Cefiro, Galant etc, it is definitely a porker by any reckoning.
Now, some very, very big hints about the limits of the new Lancer's performance envelope. I am a firm believer in the principle of big stock brakes <=> big performance or at the very least, big potential.
The GTS model's brakes are taken directly from the Mitsubishi Outlander SUV. What's the big deal about that, you ask? Well, the Outlander is a 3.0L, 220hp, 1700kg SUV. You'll need some pretty subtantial brakes to stop something that heavy, by my estimation at top speeds of nearly 180kmh. It's like taking the anchor from a battleship and chaining it to Datuk Azhar's sailboat.
So yeah, those are very big brakes indeed. The GTS comes standard with twin pot calipers with 294mm ventilated rotors up front and single pot calipers with 302mm! solid rotors at the back. The DE and ES get 276mm ventilated rotors up front. It is not clear to me yet, if they will have twin pot front calipers, like the GTS.
Just in case you're not too sure just how big these brakes are... the old 240hp Galant VR4 and 260hp Lancer Evo 3 also had twin pot calipers but only 276mm front rotors. Same as the base model new Lancer DE and ES. The 270hp Evo 4 too, had twin pot calipers and ~290mm front rotors. Same as the new Lancer GTS. Rear rotors were similarly single pot and more or less the same size as the new GTS'.
Question is, why would a 152hp basic saloon want larger brakes than those on the VR4 and Evo 3??? Why would a nippy saloon car require the same brakes as a SUV weighing 30% more???
And the stabilizer bars (21mm/20mm)... they are nearly the same size as those on the 1700kg Outlander SUV (22mm/20mm). Damn!
More performance headroom...? Your guess is as good as mine. But based on the new 4B11 Mivec engine, Evo IX-beating chassis and SUV / VR4 / Evo3-4 brakes.... all I can say is I'm getting a very tingly feeling up my spine, about this new Lancer. I think it's going to be spectacular!
One last bit. Assuming a coefficient of drag = 0.33, I ran the specs through my desktop dyno program and the above are the results. Not too shabby... 8.6 seconds century sprint (which is close enough to Mitsu's claim of ~8s) and a top speed of 206kmh. The big letdown was the weight. If I shave a 100kg off, the century sprint is 8.2s with a top speed of 210kmh... which is much more consistent with the Civic 2.0's performance.
Oh yeah, enjoy the videos too:
Footage of the Launch and Promo Video at the Detroit Motorshow.
Walkabout of the 2008 Lancer
Walkabout of the Lancer Prototype X
Sunday, February 04, 2007
Other posts about the new 2008 Lancer: