After the exhilarating experience in the Mercedes Benz StarDrive, I am back to reviewing saner cars. By saner, I mean road cars for the families. Nah, don’t get me wrong. The Mercedes AMG versions are all family cars but then imagine your grandmom sitting inside and you blip the accelerator. Oh boy! She would be scared to shits. Well, the car that I have with me today is no less revered in the Motor Sport history. It isn’t the Evo X which I had reviewed a few months back but then its lesser known cousin, the Mitsubishi Lancer Cedia in India. Now, I know most of you wouldn’t even think of buying the Lancer Cedia here but then first impressions can be so wrong as I just found out after the test drive. Launched in 2006, the Cedia hasn’t got much attention by HM except for bringing in “Select” variants (no pun intended) or even the Executive versions. There is a Sports variant as well which tries to mimic the Lancer EVO. HM are still not sure as to when they would be launching a new refreshed Cedia considering that its about 5 years since the car has been doing duties in the Indian roads.
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For the looks of this car, it does look like a chunky version of the old Lancer doing duties in India. The dissected front grille along with the Mitsubishi 3 pointed diamond don’t cut the mustard now after 5 years of been in existence. The head lamps are diamond shaped, as described by Mitsubishi. The hood is also sharply raked catering more to pedestrian safety. The design does look and feel dated especially in front of the fresher competition and also the more noticeably in front of the Honda Civic which is also of a similar age but then manages to fend competition far more effectively. The 15 inch alloy wheels are more of a style statement in the Sports variant whereas on the lesser trims, it definitely doesn’t look out of place. Like the Chevrolet Beat, the rear tail lamps have the clear lens feature which look very good. But then this is available only for the Sports variant. The tail pipe is hidden from view and true to its racing pedigree, there is a spoiler as well with the brake light on it.
Cut to the interiors. They are at best boring. The interiors don’t have the German sophistication but then everything has been put together well enough. Infact, this car seems better built than even the Honda Civic and is more at par with the Toyota Corolla as far as build quality goes. The light beige trim is one which got soiled easily. For the Sports variant, there are leather seats with black interiors. There is a Momo steering wheel which looks like a straight lift off from any rallying car. For the other variants, there is a wooden band running across the dashboard with an ivory 4 spoke steering wheel. Except from the Rocksford Fosgate music system and the satellite navigation system, there isn’t much by the way of features. Though, the interiors give you the feeling of the Toyota Corolla pre the Altis era, soon you would realize that the Toyota is a far better thing. The aircon vents feel somehow flimsy and don’t do the job properly of getting the air flowing in. Front seats especially the ones in the Sports variant are very comfortable. But then the seating is low and does require some sort of aerobics thing to get in. Especially for 6 footers like me. Back seat comfort is not upto the mark due to the low seating. But then there is enough of head room. Shoulder room is also good. Boot space at 430 liters down to 250 liters on the LPG variant is not class leading but then should do the job. Point to be noted is that there are wheel arches intruding into the cabin and this would make loading a bit of a problem.
The Mitsubishi Lancer Cedia in India rides on coil springs and McPherson struts at the front whereas at the rear, it is a multi-link setup with stabiliser bar. The suspension setup is a bit on the stiffer side. Due to the low profile tyres and the stiff suspension setup, the low speed ride is a bit affected. But then I personally felt that the stiffness is a good tradeoff for the handling that this car provides. Being from a rallying pedigree, the car is more attuned to be a sporty handler rather than provide good ride quality. But the Cedia doesn’t disappoint on either count. The Sports variant is tuned a bit more stiffly and this I can say robs the good ride quality that the other variants provide for. But then steering inputs are dealt with more urgency in the Sports variant. The other variants also have a good steering wheel but then they cannot match the one in the Sports variant since it is a few notches above the others. Body roll is minimum and infact due to this very reason, the Cedia is the preferred choice in India for motorsports events. NVH is another area where the company has paid heed to. The Mitsubishi Lancer Cedia in India is one of the vehicles in its class with the lowest NVH. Even when the engine is revved, only when it reaches the upper echelons, does the vehicle exhibit some noise. Also stability is of high order and unlike its lighter Japanese rival, the Honda Civic, this doesn’t exhibit the somewhat floating nature on the highway. The suspension is also very quiet and I didn’t hear any of the clunking noise that you usually associate with Japanese cars.
There is only a single petrol engine in the Cedia lineup and that coupled with the LPG option makes for an enticing buy. Mitsubishi or even HM would have done well if they could have introduced a diesel engine from the maybe the Lancer with improved efficiency and relaibility. The current 2.0 liter engine gets MIVEC as well as MPFi technology. It gets 4 cylinders as well as 16 valves. The peak power generated is 115 Bhp @ 5250 rpm whereas the torque figures reads as 175 Nm @ 4250 rpm. The transmission is a 5 speed manual. The gear throws are a bit long and HM could have done well to fit in a gearbox with shorter throws. Nevertheless, the gearbox makes for one happy companion with the engine. Infact, I loved it more than the Honda Civic’s 1.8 liter one. It has almost diesel engine tractability. For the numbers, the petrol burning Mitsubishi Lancer Cedia in India covered the 0-100 kmph in only 12.4 seconds whereas its LPG utilizing cousin covered the same distance in 12.6 seconds. The top speed of the petrol unit was 180 kmph whereas that of the LPG one was 169 kmph. The best part that I enjoyed in this car was the smooth transition from petrol to LPG and vice-versa. Even though the LPG one makes only 100 Bhp, performance was never lacking as is evident from the figures above. Even the in gear acceleration was not too affected.
The LPG kit comes in a whole unit from BRC of Italy and only the sheet metal brackets and storage tank are made in India. Its capacity is 48 liters. In the event of a fire or an accident, the solenoid valve acts as a device which cuts off the fuel supply. HM have also provided a fire extinguisher which sits right below the front passenger seat. Brakes are ventilated discs in the front and solid discs at the rear. Braking is very good and actually better than the Honda Civic. Moreover, there is EBD as well as ABS provided. As far as safety features are concerned, like all Mitsubishis in India, even this one gets the RISE [Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution], 2 air bags, side intrusion beams, collapsible steering columns and 3-point retractable seat belts. Fuel efficiency is not class leading but then it is okay and at par with the competition if not better. With the petrol engine doing duties, it was 9.4 kmpl in the city whereas on the highway, the figure rose to 14.7 kmpl. For the LPG version, the fuel efficiency was 6.4 kmpl in the city and 12.3 kmpl on the highway.
Finally, the test drive done, now comes my statement as to why this car should be given a chance to explain its merits over the others. The car is solidly built like the Germans, has good interior space, has a gem of an engine and transmission, is nice to drive, has an LPG option and also gets all race kits for a substantial hike in price. Oh, did I forgot to mention that it is cheaper than the others in its class and also has one of the best ride and handling packages. Now the demerits list comes. First of all, the weak service network of Hindustan Motors as well as Mitsubishi. Second comes the lack of goodies in the cabin as also average looking cabin. Third is the resale value as well as brand promotion, both of which is lacking in HM’s vehicles in India. The Mitsubishi Lancer Cedia in India could have built on its racing pedigree but then I feel that HM have let go of a good opportunity. The Mitsubishi Lancer Cedia price in India starts from Rs.9,09,000 and ends at Rs 9,82,410. All these prices are ex-show room, Mumbai.
Technical specifications of Mitsubishi Lancer Cedia
Engine details : 2.0 Liter 4 cylinder 16 valves MIVEC
Power: 115 Bhp and 100 Bhp for the LPG variant
Torque: 175 NM
Transmission: 5 Speed Manual
Brakes: Front Ventilated Discs, Rear – solid Discs
Suspension: McPherson Struts with Anti-Roll Bars at the front, Independent Multilink at the rear
Min. Turning Radius: 4.9 M
Wheels & Tires: 195/60 R15″ Tubeless Tyres fitted on Alloy Wheels
Height: 1455 mm
Length: 4595 mm
Wheel Base: 2600 mm
Width: 1695 mm
Kerb Weight: 1225 Kgs
Boot Space: 430 Liters/ 250 liters on LPG variant
Fuel Tank Capacity: 50 Liters