28 January 2008

Diamond ’Back

Mitsubishi shows off sketches of hatchback Lancer. Make the Evo version, please

Mitsubishi Hatchback Lancer

The Geneva motor show may be over a month away, but we're already looking forward to it. Because we're going to see this: the Mitsubishi Lancer Prototype-S.

And, if these sketches are anything to go by, it's going to look awesome. The Prototype-S previews a hatch version of the new Mitsubishi Lancer set to go on sale in the UK this autumn, called the Sportback.

Although Mitsu describes the Sportback as a competitor for the Alfa 159 Sportwagon - indicating that it falls into the estate category - the rear end looks much more conventionally hatch-ish to us: indeed, that slanted, rakish rear end reminds us of the current Focus five-door. 

The Sportback is expected to account for 80 per cent of Lancer sales in the UK - the rest being saloons - and aims the Lancer squarely at the new hatchbacked Impreza.

If the powertrain of Prototype-S is anything to go by, the Impreza WRX ought to be worried: the Mitsubishi puts out 237bhp from its two-litre turbo engine, 10bhp up on the WRX.

Naturally, the Sportback will get Mitsubishi's full-time four-wheel-drive system with active centre diff, as well as the Evo's twin-clutch SST gearbox.

However, don't expect to see the full-blown Evo in hatch form - sadly, the hottest Lancer will remain saloon-only. Which is a pity, because a car this good-looking deserves - nay, demands - the full Evo treatment.

We'll let you know if the Prototype-S lives up to expectations from the show floor in Geneva.

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