Mitsubishi Lancer 2 Door Coupe – Ask a group of young, first-time car buyers to name their first choice of wheels, and you’ll likely find that most of them will name a specific make and model.
And this car is a Mitsubishi Lancer Coupe. While the appeal of the Lancer Coupe may be a little hard to spot at first, it meets the demands of many younger car owners.
Mitsubishi Lancer 2 Door Coupe
For starters, the two-door Lancer has a look that many buyers love. It might not be as practical as a traditional hatchback, but it sure looks better than some (in a conservative way).
Mitsubishi Lancer Gli Ce Manual Coupe Auction (0001 10098871)
Second, the car has a good reputation for reliability and its performance doesn’t scare parents or insurance companies too much.
Just as important, the Lancer Coupe in its most basic form is a less expensive alternative to other Lancers. The other good news is that the 10-year-old Lancer Coupe doesn’t look too different from much newer examples, so there’s a wide range of prices to start shopping around.
The most basic Lancer Coupe of the last decade was the GLi in CE form (the CE replaced the CC in 1996).
The GLi specs feature a 1.5-litre engine using a single overhead camshaft, three valves per cylinder and a not-so-special 69kW of power.
Cc Capsule: 1994 Mitsubishi Mirage Asti V Coupé
A four-speed automatic is optional, but the conventional five-speed manual is better because it makes relatively little output. Standard equipment goes down to cloth trim, a very basic stereo and not much else. You definitely have to roll up your windows and air conditioning didn’t become standard until May 1999. Central locking became standard in 2001 and airbags the same year.
Another good news for 2001 was the choice of a bigger and more powerful engine. The 1.8-litre engine uses the same overhead camshaft, but four valves per cylinder and a much more useful 86kW (not to mention more torque).
This means automatic options are suddenly much more viable, and since they don’t cost much these days (usually a few hundred dollars more), they’re worth a look, especially if you like automatic transmissions.
The GLXi is the next step up and has a bigger engine as standard, air conditioning, mirrors and a speedometer. While the GLi continued in the current model, the GLXi died in 2001.
Mitsubishi Lancer 1997
It was all because Mitsubishi managed that the cheaper it could sell a coupe, the more it could sell, so the base model was the one that continued.
Counterpoint for those with a bit more to spend is the MR Coupe which commands something like a $7,000 price tag when new. Even in the late 1990s, when the GLi was a stripped-down poverty package, the MR had a body kit, body-colored mirrors, wheels, air conditioning and a CD player.
Dual front airbags became standard on the MR in late 2001, and there were even slick touches like fog lights.
A larger engine is standard, but it’s not a huge step forward. Of course, it’s not much better than the smaller Lancer Coupe with a 1.8-liter engine, so it’s debatable whether it’s worth the extra money for most buyers.
Kobayakawa’s Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution
And, of course, even in MR trim, the MR isn’t a particularly luxurious or well-equipped vehicle, so if those elements matter, you might want to look elsewhere.
In fact, this is a real theme when it comes to Lancer Coupes and they can feel very nice inside, with lots of plain gray plastic and cheap carpet and trim.
Build quality feels a little different, and while one car may be tight and quiet, another of the same make and mileage may feel a lot cheaper. With this in mind, you should approach each potential purchase on its own merits.
To be honest, there are better cars out there for the same money, and the origins of its popularity among young people are hard to pin down. But as anyone who has tried to understand a teenager will tell you, this in itself is nothing new.
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Morley is a long-time contributor and our regular used car expert. An avid car collector and boxer, he knows what to look for – and look out for – when buying a new car.
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