Mitsubishi Lancer GSR

AutoTrader NZ
Published 3 September 2020

Base price: $25,990.

Powertrain and performance: 2.0-litre petrol four, 115kW/201Nm, continuously variable transmission, front-drive, Combined economy 7.3 litres per 100km.

Vital statistics: 4570mm long, 1450mm high, luggage capacity 400 litres, fuel tank 59 litres, 16-inch alloy wheels on 205/60 tyres.

We like: Sheer value, still stylish, decent chassis.

We don’t like: Coarse powertrain, cheap cabin, crimes against GSR name.

How it rates: 6/10


“The name that stood for performance and style is back,” says Mitsubishi New Zealand’s advertising material for the Lancer GSR. That’s clever because it is quite literally true: the name is back. But only the name. The GSR name is one of those treasures from Mitsubishi’s history. The 1973 Lancer GSR kicked off a long and successful rallying career for the Japanese maker and the badge was applied to fast roadgoing Lancers from that point on. Or at least until very recently in New Zealand. Now, Mitsubishi seems to have spent that treasure on a chrome grille and some small alloy wheels, because there is nothing sporty about the new GSR. In fact, it’s an entry level Lancer with a modest 2.0-litre engine, wearing a more aggressive grille and loaded with equipment for an astonishingly good price. As with the similarly loaded (but more luxury-themed) Lancer SEi, Mitsubishi lists this car at over $30,000 but freely advertises it at a special “introductory” price of $25,990. So let’s just call that the price. If value for money was horsepower, the new GSR would have won a championship of some kind by now.


The current Lancer dates back to 2008 and is likely to carry on until 2017, as Mitsubishi concentrates on small and electric cars. So let’s just say development of the Lancer is not a top priority for its maker. It’s not a great drive, but that’s more the fault of the powertrain than the chassis. The 2.0-litre engine is modestly powered and coarse under load – which is often is, because it’s saddled with an old-school continuously variable transmission (CVT) that swings between lethargy and uncontrollable over-revving. That’s the way gearless transmission was back in the heady days of 2007. The steering and chassis are actually pretty good. The GSR turns into corners with authority and car tackles tight turns with a surprisingly fluid nature. Ride is also impressive, no doubt aided by the small(ish) wheels – although road noise on coarse chip seal remains a problem, as it so often does with Mitsubishi passenger cars.


The Lancer has always been a pretty useful size, straddling the small and medium segments. So it’s large enough to serve as a fleet or business car, while compact enough for city living. The cabin is tidy but uninspired, with hard plastics and the odd ill-fitting moulding. However, you cannot argue with the level of equipment in this $26k car: everything from leather upholstery to power seat adjustment to a 6.1-inch touch screen – with clunky graphics, but it also incorporates a reversing camera. The GSR also carries a few high-gloss trim elements on the dashboard, which does give the interior a little bit of a lift.


The company chequebook will no doubt decide. The lancer was not a segment-leading machine even when it was launched, even less impressive in isolation five years on. But it’s still good-looking (especially with the more aggressive front bumper/grille of the GSR), decent to drive and loaded with equipment for the money. Even if it was bare-bones it’d still be outstanding value for money: medium-car presence and space at a supermini money. You won’t fall in love with the Lancer GSR, but if you’re shopping at this price point you can’t afford to ignore it.


Air conditioning: Climate

Audio: CD, iPod compatible

Automatic lights/wipers: No/no

Blind spot warning: No

Bluetooth: Yes

Cruise control: Yes

Driver footrest: Yes

Gas discharge headlights: No

Head-up display: No

Heated/ventilated seats: No

Keyless entry/start: No

Lane guidance: No

Leather upholstery: Yes

Parking radar: Yes with camera

Power boot or tailgate: No

Power seat adjustment/memory: Yes/No

Rear ventilation outlets: No

Remote audio controls: Yes

Satellite navigation: No

Seat height adjustment: Yes

Self-parking technology: No

Split/folding rear seats: 60/40

Steering reach adjustment: Yes

Stop-start: No

Trip computer: Yes