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2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback review


The popular Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback returns for the 2012 model year as the definitive "5-door sports car"that blends the smart look and sporty roots of the Lancer sedan with an added degree of utility and convenience to the Lancer family.
2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback photo2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback photo
The 2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback is available in two trim levels: the entry-level ES and the sporty GT. The Lancer Sportback ES comes with an efficient 2.0-liter inline-4 engine that achieves 32 highway mpg with the Lancer Sportback GT equipped with a more potent 2.4-liter inline-4 engine.
2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback photo2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback photo
New for 2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback
Upgraded Interior
The 2012 Lancer Sportback model lineup comes with new seat fabric and instrument panel trim. Soft touch materials on the door panels are available, as is a rear-view camera that is either integrated into the navigation screen or auto-dimming mirror. An "ECO"indicator light is new, signaling to the driver that they are currently operating their vehicle in a most efficient manner when illuminated.
2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback photo2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback photo
New Wheels
The 2012 Lancer Sportback ES sports new 16-inch wheel covers. A new 18-inch alloy wheel design has been added to the 2012 version of the Lancer Sportback GT.
Ralliart-Inspired Front Fascia
A sporty new lower chrome grill finds a home on the 2012 Lancer Sportback ES when equipped with the optional Deluxe package with a Ralliart-type front fascia are included on the 2012 Lancer Sportback GT model.
2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback photo2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback photo
Sport-Centric Design
The 2012 Lancer Sportback takes the rally-inspired looks from the 4-door Lancer and adds a 5-door and an expansive cargo area in the rear. Whereas the silhouettes of other wagon versions of sedans form a clunky wedge, the Sportback retains the smooth sloping greenhouse of the Lancer, bubbling out slightly to accommodate for the expanded rear cargo space. The sleek, wrap-around taillights and integrated roof wing are exclusive to the Sportback.
The ES model comes with new 7-spoke, 16-inch wheel covers, while the ES Deluxe trim adds a lower grill that outlines the lower front bumper inlet in shiny chrome. The GT model comes with new 8-spoke, 18-inch alloy wheels and the entire Sportback GT line comes with the more aggressive front fascia found in the Ralliart, complete with fog lamps, front air dam extensions carrying a front splitter design and a center opening that pays homage to the Evolution model, albeit with a chrome bezel.
2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback photo2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback photo
Chassis and Suspension: Tuned for Performance
The Lancer Sportback's ultra-high-tensile steel construction and comprehensive bolstering in areas such as the side pillars and roof joints help make the chassis extremely rigid. To take advantage of the stiff platform, independent suspension consisting of MacPherson struts in the front and multilink setup for the rear provide smooth handling.
As for dimensions, the Sportback is identical to the Lancer in wheelbase (103.7-inch), width (69.4-inch) and front and rear track (60.2-inch for both). Where the Sportback is larger than the Lancer is in overall length and height, 0.4-inch longer for the former and 0.6-inch taller for the latter. In total, the Lancer Sportback is 180.4-inch in overall length and 59.3-inch in height.
The steering system varies for the two Sportback models. The Lancer Sportback GT relies on a conventional hydraulic assisted steering system for crisp driver feedback and response. The Lancer Sportback ES mitigates the parasitic loss caused by a belt-driven hydraulic steering pump by employing an electric motor to assist the power steering. The electric steering improves fuel efficiency and has been tuned by Mitsubishi to retain good steering feel.
The braking system also differs between the two models. The ES model uses 10.9-inch diameter ventilated disc brake rotors in the front, and depending on the wheels, drum or disc brakes for the rear. For ES models of the Lancer Sportback equipped with alloy wheels, 10.3-inch diameter disc brakes stop the rear. Lancer Sportback ES models not equipped with alloy wheels use rear drum brakes. The Sportback GT uses larger 11.6-inch diameter ventilated discs up front and 11.9-inch solid discs in the rear.
The total added weight from the 5-door Sportback compared to the 4-door Lancer is 88-lbs. Equipped with the CVT, the Lancer ES weighs 3054 lbs., while the Lancer Sportback ES weighs in at 2966 lbs.
2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback photo2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback photo
Two Available Engines
The pair of 2012 Lancer Sportback model offerings each come with their own engine variant.
The engine in the Lancer Sportback ES is based off of the block found in the flagship Lancer Evolution, the 4B11. In its non-turbocharged state, the 2.0-liter DOHC MIVEC 16-valve inline-4 produces 148 bhp at 6,000 rpm and 145 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,200 rpm. The aluminum-constructed 4B11 is lightweight and fuel efficient. Compression ratio for the naturally aspirated 4B11 engine is 10.0:1 (the turbocharged 4B11 T/C in the Lancer Evolution is 9.0:1).
The Lancer Sportback GT features an inline-4 engine with a larger 2.4-liter displacement for more torque. Internally designated the 4B12, the high compression engine (10.5:1) produces 168 bhp at 6,000 rpm and 167 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,100 rpm. A member of the 4B engine family, the 2.4-liter engine's block and head are constructed of aluminum. Despite the lofty compression figures, both engines have been tuned to accept regular 87 octane fuel.
Both engine options in the 2012 Lancer Sportback ES and GT trim levels include the continuously-variable transmission (CVT). Designed by Mitsubishi, the CVT transmission has been engineered with INVEC-III technology to provide smooth shifts.
The 2.0-liter-equipped Lancer Sportback ES is rated at 25 mpg city/32 mpg highway and the 2.4-liter-equipped Lancer Sportback GT is rated at 23 mpg city/29 mpg highway with the CVT.
2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback photo2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback photo
Resourceful Interior
Thanks to its 5-door design and taller, longer stance, the Lancer Sportback not only seats five, but offers incredible utility. With the rear seats up, the Sportback offers 13.8 cu. ft. of cargo volume, 1.5 cu. ft. more than the regular Lancer's 12.3 cu. ft. But with the one-touch, auto-folding 60:40-split rear seats folded completely flat, cargo volume balloons to 46.6 cu. ft. For even more space, the rear cargo-area floor can be lowered three inches, increasing cargo volume to 15.3 cu. ft. with the rear seats up, and 52.7 cu. ft. with the rear seats folded down.
The base Lancer Sportback comes well-equipped from the factory. Air conditioning, power door locks and windows, 6-way adjustable driver's seat, auto-off halogen headlights, 140-watt CD/MP3 audio system with Digital Sound Processing (DSP), steering wheel-mounted cruise control and audio controls, and rear window intermittent wiper with defroster are just some of the convenience highlights.
New for the 2012 Lancer Sportback is an eco-friendly "ECO"indicator light and a change in interior fabric and instrument panel trim. The ES model receives a new dark-silver trim along the dashboard and black/beige interior fabric. The GT model receives a gloss-black treatment for the instrument panel and a new black sport fabric. Upgraded soft touch materials on the door panels are available (included with Deluxe package on ES models), as is a rearview camera monitor integrated into either an auto-dimming rear-view mirror (included with Touring package on GT models) or the dash-mounted navigation system (included with Navigation package on GT models).
2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback photo2012 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback photo
Engineered for Safety
Similar to the Lancer Evolution, the 2012 Lancer Sportback utilizes Mitsubishi's next-generation Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution (RISE) highly rigid unibody design technology. In the event of a rear or side impact, the RISE design acts to disperse energy around the vehicle's occupants and fuel system. For further protection, all Sportback models come equipped with an advanced dual front air bag supplemental restraint system (SRS) with occupant sensors, side-impact head protection curtain air bags for both the front and rear seating sections, front seat-mounted side-impact air bags and a driver's knee air bag.
Other standard safety features on the 2012 Lancer Sportback include anti-lock braking system (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD), Active Stability Control (ASC) with Traction Control Logic (TCL), an active front seat structure to help reduce whiplash injury, and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) that alerts the driver to fluctuations in the tire's air pressure.

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