Mitsubishi Lancer VRX

Second Life

My effort to make a family runabout seem interesting for Alpha magazine. When I start mentioning airbags, you know I’m in trouble.

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If I ever want a good laugh, I “float” the idea (as they say in meetings) of a second car with my partner. I’m still young enough to get away with a sports car, I muse. I can really see myself in something low, fast and red.

By this point my loved one has assumed the bleak expression of a sailor staring out at a stormy sea. We are not going to get one, I am told, because we need to feed and clothe ourselves instead. Not even the cheaper one I like – that “hairdresser’s car”. Right, like hairdressers don’t know what they’re doing.

In a blind world, stricken by compromise, it’s no wonder the small four-door sedan sells by the car park-load. These are the cars with poke that allow the man of impending middle years to live the dream, to drive with the wind in his hair, and to take the kids down to Bunnings for a bucket of screws.

Mitsubishi’s Lancer VRX is now best in class: a grippy little bigger (just 1355kg) with bucket front-seats, 18-inch alloy wheels and the kind of sporty, kitted-up look that says, “Ride me, urban cowboy.”

The VRX is Mitsubishi’s top-of-the-range effort and comes with all the extras you’d want to stick on it anyway. The best one is the spoiler, which takes a big chunk out of your rear vision and provides that  crucial 0.05% extra down-force as you look for a parking spot on a Saturday morning. I love it.

The VRX is easy to drive: the flippable gearstick responds to even the most haphazard wrenching, while the engine gives out enough of a rumble at lower speeds to reduce fears of “overperformance”, and there are airbags just about everywhere. But…

Get the VRX out on your own and suddenly the terms “active suspension” and “traction control” take on a lot more meaning. You could (if you wanted) throw it into corners with no adverse effect on the quality of the ride. And with good acceleration for a four-door sedan, the engine rumble soon gives way to a more satisfying roar. While the performance brakes are there if someone starts giving you that wagging little finger.

Surprisingly, with all the extra gear and attention to detail devoted to the exterior, inside seems a bit slap-dash. The electronic display might say “hello” and “goodbye”, but it’s surrounded by a rather dull dash, slabs of basic plastic everywhere and slightly shoddy-looking controls, It’s a shame, really, because some of them are quite cool, including the one-touch indicators, rain-sensing wipers and a beautifully clear stereo system that you can jam up high and hope someone hasn’t left the Wiggles CD in by mistake.

The VRX aims to be both your first and your second car, and makes a damn good stab at both. Which is why they’ll sell about a zillion of them without even trying.

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See this as a hi-res PDF:

LancerPDF