I have waited for this moment for years. I have begged and pleaded for Regular Car Reviews to review a last-generation Mitsubishi Lancer forever, as it is a truly regular car. I know, because I own a 2010 Lancer GTS that has been the butt of many “reasonably-priced car” jokes. Finally, Mr. Regular reviewed mine at its second home: Harris Hill Raceway.
I’ve had this Lancer since it was new. My parents bought it for me as a graduation present a couple months early because they were tired of fixing my college beater.
It was the last good Mitsubishi sedan—not the Sportback hatch that Mr. Regular also mentions in the video, which was a slightly different model. There’s a lot of cheaper components, but I never cared as most were interior bits, and fancy interior pieces are unnecessary weight! The parts that mattered were good: A decently torquey 4B12 engine, and cool, aggressive looks.
Because my Lancer was there, and why not, it ended up on this very race track the second it was out of its break-in period. It went to track days and autocrosses, and eventually sort of took up residence at Harris Hill as the little car that shouldn’t, but does anyway. It’s a decent handling road car, and the continuously-variable transmission makes it as point-and-shoot as it gets to drive on track. Nail the throttle, and it just sort of keeps the engine’s revs where they need to be for a while. Neat.
But that’s it: it’s a road car, built to haul groceries, commute, and do regular car things. It’s almost nothing like the Sharkwerks-tuned Porsche 911 GT3 RS that Mr. Regular drove on the same trip. Unlike the Porsche, the Lancer has all kinds of lean in turns, which is exacerbated by the stickier summer tires and the squealy track pads that I put on the car. It stops and turns a little better that way, but aside from that and a good alignment with a little bit more toe-out than stock to help with turn-in, it’s a bone stock Lancer GTS.
So, when Mr. Regular hopped into my car, he was a little scared when I kept saying “floor it!” He didn’t want to. Some little kinks where you’d lift or brake beforehand in the 911 are taken flat-out in the Lancer. And oh, the lean. There are no harnesses, so sometimes my left leg does get some action trying to brace myself up into my seat.
In his defense, though, going from a car that’s made for this sort of thing to one that isn’t can be a little terrifying because it is so different. The Lancer requires you to do what you shouldn’t: leave your foot floored on the gas pedal as early and often as possible. Hoon the snot out of a normal car. It’s basically everything you’ve been told your whole life not to do, except you can here. Legally.
(Also in Mr. Regular’s defense, I’ve never been a right-seat instructor on track before, and this was substantially more relaxed than I’d expect an actual instructor to be since we were driving around a bit slower in my car, and helmets-off. Hence the giggling.)
Yet all of my Lancer’s frightening flaws are why I sort of adore it. If you’re just getting started tracking a car, something fairly stock and meant for enjoyable road use like the Lancer is a good option. That scary body roll communicates exactly where the weight of the car is going, so if your instructor brings up weight transfer and how that works on track, you feel it with your very own butt. There also isn’t much power to get yourself into trouble with. A car like the Lancer on howling road tires will also give you plenty of warning before you totally lose control.
There is also a certain charm to running down slower drivers in faster cars with a much slower car, when possible. I wear my “bad influence” label with pride.
Sadly, Mr. Regular seems to have nailed the Lancer’s place in history. Mitsubishi pulled the plug on the Lancer and the performance cars based on it seven years after my car was built, chasing the money with a dull crossover-heavy lineup. The Lancer was one last party, but it was a good one.