The Mitsubishi Lancer is a family car built by Mitsubishi Motors. It has been known as the Colt Lancer, Dodge/Plymouth Colt, Chrysler Valiant Lancer, Chrysler Lancer, Eagle Summit, Hindustan Lancer, Soueast Lioncel, Mitsubishi Carisma, and Mitsubishi Mirage in various countries at different times, and has been sold as the Galant Fortis in Japan since 2007. It has also been sold as Lancer Fortis in Taiwan with a different facelift compared to Galant Fortis. In Japan, it was sold at a specific retail chain called Car Plaza.
Between its introduction in 1973 and 2008, over six million Lancers had been sold.
First generation (1973–1979)
The first Lancer (A70) was first launched in February 1973. It served to fill the gap between the Minica kei car and the larger Galant. The sporting 1600 GSR model began the Lancer's long and successful rally history, winning the Safari Rally twice and the Southern Cross Rally four times.
There were three body styles, two- and four-door sedans and a long-running five-door station wagon (built until replaced by the front-wheel drive Lancer/Mirage Van in March 1984). Engines were different 1.2-liter, 1.4-liter, and 1.6-liter fours.
This car was marketed under a variety of names:
- Dodge Colt (USA, 1977–1979)
- Dodge Lancer (some Latin American countries)
- Colt Lancer (Some European markets)
- Chrysler Valiant Lancer LA (Australia, 1974–1977)
- Chrysler Lancer LB (Australia, 1977–1980)
- Plymouth Colt (Canada)
In February 1975 the Lancer was complemented by a liftback coupé called the "Mitsubishi Lancer Celeste", succeeding the Galant FTO. It was also called the "Mitsubishi Celeste" or "Colt Celeste" in some markets; and sold as the Chrysler Lancer Coupé (LB/LC) in Australia, the Dodge Lancer Celeste in El Salvador, the Plymouth Arrow in the United States, and the Dodge Arrow in Canada.
The Celeste was originally available with 1.4- and 1.6-liter options, while a bigger 2.0-liter model was added later. An even larger 2.6-liter four was available in the US-market Plymouth Fire Arrow. The Celeste was facelifted in 1978, receiving square headlights and bigger squarer bumpers. Production of the Lancer Celeste ended in July 1981 and it was replaced by the front-wheel drive Cordia in early 1982.
Second generation (1979–1988)
In 1979, the Lancer EX was unveiled in Japan. Only two engines were offered at the time, a 1.4 L MCA-JET equipped engine paired with Mitsubishi's Silent Shaft Technology, which generated 80 hp (60 kW) and a 1.6 L engine that generated 85 hp (63 kW) and 100 hp (75 kW). The MCA-JET system was an entirely new concept when compared with the previously used carburetor system. The MCA stands for Mitsubishi Clean Air which meant that the EX passed both Japan and US emission standards, while the new cylinder head design of the engine gave way for a Jet valve which introduced an extra swirl of air to the combustion chamber, swirling the fuel-air mixture for a cleaner, efficient and more thorough burn.
In addition to these improvements, another breakthrough in the Lancer lineup was the Silent Shaft Technology, which was actually two counterbalancing shafts that rotated in opposite directions, cancelling the power pulses inherent in an inline 4-cylinder engine. This reduced both engine noise and vibration, and provided a smoother driving experience. The 1.8 L Sirius 80 engines were then introduced in the Lancer in 1980, along with a new 70 hp (52 kW), 1.2 L engine a year later, providing a broader range of engines for the Mitsubishi's Lancer. Also, a turbocharged, 135 PS (99 kW; 133 hp) engine was added in 1980 for sportier performance, and an Intercooler system was also integrated in the existing turbocharged engine to produce 165 PS (121 kW; 163 hp) in 1983.
Lancer EX 1800GSR and GT Turbo
In 1980, The Lancer EX was introduced with a 1.8 L turbocharged 4-cylinder option known as the 1800GSR and GT Turbo. The first generation 1800GSR and GT were only available with a turbocharged, non-intercooled 135 PS (99 kW; 133 hp). However, in 1983, an intercooler was introduced, helping the turbocharged engine to produce 160 PS (118 kW; 158 hp).
Japan model and trim levels
- 1400SL - 4-door sedan powered by a 1.4L engine, with a 4-speed Manual Transmission. 5-speed was also introduced. (1979–1987)
- 1200SL - Same as the SL, with a 1.2L engine option. (1979–1983)
- 1400GL - 3-speed Automatic version of the SL (1979–1983)
- 1400SL A/T - Same as the GL, with minor changes. (1983–1987)
- 1600XL - 4-door sedan powered by a 1.6L engine, with a 3-speed Automatic Transmission. (1979–1983)
- 1600GSR - 4-door sedan powered by a 1.6L engine with twin carbs, with a 5-speed Manual Transmission. (1981–1983)
- 1600XL Super - Same as the XL, with minor changes. (1983–1987)
- 1800SE - 4-door sedan powered by a 1.8L producing 100 hp (75 kW) engine, and available with a 5-speed Manual Transmission or a 3-speed Automatic Transmission. (1981–1983)
- 1800GSR Turbo - 4-door sedan powered by a turbocharged 1.8L engine producing 135 PS (99 kW), with aesthetic upgrades.(1981–1983)
- 1800GT Turbo - Same as the GSR, but with a different body trim. (1981–1983)
- 1800GSR Turbo Intercooler - Intercooled version of the first turbo version, producing 160 PS (118 kW), and with minor changes to the aesthetics. (1983–1987)
- 1800GT Turbo Intercooler - Same as the GSR Turbo Intercooler, again with different body trim. (1983–1987)
- 1800GSL Turbo - Same as the GSR Turbo Intercooler, only it used the engine from the GSR/GT Turbo, and equipped with a 3-speed Automatic Transmission, and with a more luxurious interior. Along with an AM/FM Multi-Cassette Stereo System. (1983–1987)
Lancer EX 2000 Turbo
In Europe, the Lancer EX was offered with a turbocharged 2.0 L 4–cylinder engine known as the Lancer EX 2000 Turbo. It was the first Lancer to use the very first 4G63 engine which was then used in succeeding models such as the Galant VR-4 and the Lancer Evolution I to IX.
It achieved a maximum output of 170 PS (125 kW) and manages a top speed of 200 km/h (124 mph) and a quarter mile time of less than 15.5 s. A new feature on this model is that it is equipped with ECI or Advanced Electronically Controlled Fuel Injection, which gave the Lancer more power and outstanding fuel economy as it did 23.0 mpg in city driving and 28.8 to 37.2 mpg in highway driving. A rally version of the Lancer EX 2000 Turbo was made for the 1000 Lakes Rally that gave out 280 PS (206 kW; 276 hp). Sales of this model were low because of emission regulations Japan imposed at that time.
In The Philippines, the Lancer EX (which is popularly known as the Box Type Lancer) was offered with three variants. These variants are the SL, GSR, and GT. All engines were equipped with the Silent Shaft Technology (the SL had the 1.4 L while the GSR and GT had 1.6 L) and soon after, Automatic was available for SL and GSR variants. Sales stopped in 1989 since it was to be replaced by the fifth generation Lancer.
Model and trim levels
- SL - Base Model. 4-door sedan powered by a 1.4L 4G33 engine with a 4-speed Manual Transmission and later introduced with the 3-speed Automatic Transmission
- GSR - Mid Range Model. 4-door sedan powered by a 1.6L 4G32 engine with a 5-speed Manual Transmission. 3-speed Automatic Transmission along with a 1.8L engine option (4G62 - carb ver.) was then introduced.
- GT - Limited Edition version with the Lancer EX Turbo Bodykit, 13" alloy rims, and same 1.6L 4G32 engine.
The Lancer EX (the Lancer name was used, and excluding Japan) was sold throughout the Asia and the Pacific (Malaysia, Indonesia, China, Australia, New Zealand). It was also sold in South America.
- ECI turbocharged DOHC 1997 cc (2.0L) I4, 170 hp (127 kW)
- ECI turbocharged SOHC 1795 cc (1.8L) I4, 160 hp (119 kW)
- ECI turbocharged (3rd gear) SOHC 1795 cc I4, 135 hp (101 kW)
- Carb SOHC 1795 cc I4, 100 hp (75 kW)
- Carb SOHC 1597 cc (1.6L) I4, 85 hp (63 kW)
- Carb "MCA-Jet" SOHC 1410 cc (1.4L) I4, 80 hp (60 kW)
- Carb SOHC 1244 cc (1.2L) I4, 54 hp (40 kW)
Third generation: Lancer Fiore (1982–1983)
In January 1982, a special model was launched called the Lancer Fiore, also known as third version of the Lancer, based on the A15#-series Mitsubishi Colt/Mirage. Its introduction coincided with the Mirage II facelift, from which the Fiore benefitted too. The Fiore was often sold as a Lancer in international markets, and also as the Mirage Saloon in Japan. In Australia, it would eventually be sold as the Mitsubishi Colt Sedan although cosmetically different. Thus, Mitsubishi had two similarly sized models competing in the same market segment, sometimes even while sharing the "Lancer" badge.
It was available in the home market with 1,244 and 1,410 cc iterations of the familiar Orion, putting out 72 and 82 hp (53 and 60 kW). A 105 hp (77 kW) 1400 GT Turbo was added in September 1982.
The Lancer Fiore/Third generation was discontinued in October 1983 with the introduction of the fourth generation, not even two years after its launch. Production continued in Australia until 1990 (alongside the hatchback version), but labelled as "Mitsubishi Colt". The RWD Lancer EX outlasted it in most markets though.
Fourth generation (1983–1988)
With the introduction of the C10 series, the Mirage Saloon and Lancer Fiore (just Lancer in the export) remained the same car. The new Lancer Fiore incorporated the latest in computer control engine technology including an electronic fuel injection for its high-performance 1.6-litre turbocharged engine with a power output of 120ps. For the fuel conscious, a 1.8-litre "Sirius" diesel engine was added as well as the new 1.5-litre MD (Modulated Displacement) engine which was developed by Mitsubishi Motors and introduced to the market for the first time.
In 1985, the Lancer Wagon/Cargo (also marketed as the Mirage Wagon/Van) was introduced to address expanding user needs and to extend the versatility of the Lancer lineup. It had rather unusual, diagonal taillights. The following year saw the addition of a full-time four-wheel-drive Wagon version, with a 1.8-litre engine. This model went on to become very popular in both the commercial and private sectors overseas as well as in Japan. Since there was no wagon version of the fifth generation Mirage/Lancer, production of this one continued until 1991.
This model formed the basis of the original Proton sedan, the Saga, which was still in production until early 2008. However, in the Philippines, this generation of Lancer was not sold through Mitsubishi dealers.