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CarWale Team, 10-Nov-2009. Car Tested: , Version:
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Introduction

Mitsubishi Motors is best known for its Lancer range of sedans, most notably the ‘Evolution’ range which were developed under the harsh conditions of the World Rally Championship. It started life in 1973 and was badged a Mitsubishi, Chrysler and a Plymouth in different parts of the world.

Four generations later, the Lancer made its way into India with the help of Hindustan Motors and like the Ambassador, still sells in the same basic avatar with changes to the engine and trim levels. The seventh-generation Lancer, the Cedia (originally called the ‘Lancer Cedia,’ short for ‘Lancer Century Diamond’ like it was in its home market) was first displayed in India during the 2006 Auto expo in New Delhi. It sold well initially but the high costs of spares and small service network turned away customers from a brilliant product. Does the new Cedia Sport have what it takes to make you feel like Tommi Makkinen?

Exterior

The Cedia was launched originally in two variants, the ‘Select’ and the ‘Sport’. The Select was available in sober colors, and had minimal body work and alloy wheels. The Sport versions had skirting all around, and a spoiler at the rear – but what caught your eye was the colours. We’d kill for a canary yellow or blood red Cedia Sport, and we’re glad they’re back in the showrooms. The Sport had been discontinued for a while and replaced by the Select LPG variant, which traded boot space for an LPG gas tank.

There has been a recent change in marketing strategy, and the Cedia will now be sold in only the Sport versions. On the outside, the most noticeable feature is the graphics on the doors which aren’t on the car you see here. Looks are subjective, but the entire edit team at CarWale would rather have their Cedia Sport minus the graphics. The front, side and rear skirts and the rear spoiler have made a comeback as well, but the biggest change on the outside is the 15 inch OZ alloy rims and Bridgestone Potenza tyres.

The nose of the Cedia has the new face of the Lancer – up to the sixth generation, they looked like evolutions of the design, but this particular generation’s front end was redesigned comprehensively to go with the Mitsubishi family look. The nose reminds us a lot of the Eclipse, and it looks very Japanese and menacing. The central bonnet crease, the triangular grille divider (opposed to the previous Sport’s undivided grille) in the centre all make it look very aggressive from the front. Move to the side, however, and the traditional three-box sedan silhouette gives the age of the design away. At the rear, the aftermarket-lookalike tail lamps look very nice when lit up at night, but during the day the silver surrounds don’t gel with the rest of the car’s err-on-the-side-of-caution looks. When you compare it with cars that cost around the same amount and are in the same segment like the Linea, Cruze and Civic, you can’t help but feel that the design is dated.

Interior

The Cedia Sport has new things on the inside as well – the Momo steering wheel will catch your eye at first. This three-spoke design imitates the wheels used in racing. Pressing the horn button while holding the wheel can be difficult even for large hands.  Carbon fiber finishing on the centre console also adds in a big way to the sporty effect, as do the all-black leather seats with red piping and white stitching. The quality of the plastics is much higher than the segment standard – something that we like a lot. The air-conditioning in the Cedia is astonishingly powerful. We drove around in a car without aftermarket sun film in the month of October in Chennai, and yet the Cedia’s AC managed to chill us in a very short period, although a climate control system would have been nice. A touchscreen audio system that is similar to the new Endeavour’s unit is standard on the Cedia. It plays mp3 discs and has a port for a USB drive in the glovebox. It gets full marks for functionality: you can play music off discs or off a USB drive, answer calls over Bluetooth after pairing your phone with the unit, and find your way around a large city like Chennai with the help of the inbuilt satellite navigation system. It plays loud, but the quality of the sound leaves something to be desired.

The driver sits a little low in the Cedia, but the feeling of space is something that one will rarely experience in a modern sedan. The three-box silhouette may not leave any hearts thudding, but coupled with relatively slim pillars, increases visibility and the feeling of space tremendously.  The steering wheel tilts but doesn’t telescope, but a good driving position is easy to arrive at. Worth mentioning are the Cedia’s electrically adjustable mirrors – they offer a view of the rear that makes the driver know within seconds of getting in how close and where the objects in the mirrors are. The front passenger has a lot of space to stretch his legs, but if two six-foot tall people sit behind each other, the rear occupant will have to compromise a little on knee room. Under-thigh support is not enough for tall people, especially at the rear. Head room is more than sufficient for tall people, again, owing to the slightly dated but functional silhouette. The seats and roof are a little low, so getting in and out may not be easy for elderly people or those with knee or back problems.

Boot space is par for the segment at 430 litres, and useable. If you’re eyeing the now-discontinued Cedia Select LPG in the used market, be aware that the boot size is halved thanks to the LPG tank.

Engine, Drivetrain, Fuel Efficiency

Engine:   

The Cedia has always been offered with a single engine in India, a 1999cc in-line four cylinder engine that is designated 4G63 by Mitsubishi. Despite being the first manufacturer to develop direct injection for gasoline engines, this naturally aspirated engine still sports indirect injection. The American market used to get this same engine rated at 120bhp, but it is rated at 115bhp @ 5250rpm and 175Nm @ 4250rpm for the Indian market. The LPG variant sported sequential injection for the gas, which still is one of the most advanced systems put on sale in our country. It offered good fuel economy with a mere 10% drop in power. The engine has a cast iron block, and belongs to the same family of engines that produced the venerable Evo engines, which have been offered with up to 400bhp from two turbocharged litres. These engines also had a full two-year, 100,000km warranty – something that would give any other manufacturer, including supercar manufacturers, nightmares.

The Cedia’s engine is one of the most refined ones we’ve experienced, price no bar. It is completely silent at low revs and makes a very nice, sporty growl at high revs. It is also enormously flexible, which means it will uncomplainingly haul the car along smartly in any revs at any speed in any gear. When in the powerband, it will respond to every twitch of your right foot. Our testing showed us a 0-100kph time of 11.5 seconds and a quarter mile time of 17.9 seconds at 124.9 kph. (Test figures are indicative since we didn’t test the car on our standard test patch.)

Drivetrain:

You can stick the Cedia in fourth gear, and depress the right pedal at 30kph, only to have the car pick up speed smartly without so much as a twitch. This supreme flexibility is reflected in the in-gear times of 30-50kph in third gear (4.1 seconds) and in fourth (6.5 seconds) 50-70kph in top gear takes 9.0 seconds.

The shift lever is stubby with short, with positive throws that take a flick of the wrist to engage. Shifting is truly a joy – none of us had a single missed shift no matter how much we hurried the lever through the gate.

Fuel efficiency:


We never got the opportunity to put the Cedia through our normal test cycle, so our figure of 9.6kpl is only indicative. The Cedia brochure states it’ll return a smidgen over 13kpl under standard ARAI fuel consumption testing conditions, which is par for the segment.

Ride and handling, Steering

The Cedia’s rally heritage shines through in the ride and handling department. Ride is acceptable around town, with a little stiffness over sharp bumps, but up speed and things begin to get better and better. Round a corner at speed, and the Cedia feels like it pivots around the driver and not around a point on the hood like normal front-engined, front-wheel drive cars do. The ability of this car to scythe through a bend is something that will rarely be exploited to its fullest by an owner, but know that this car is something special. On the limit the Cedia will understeer, but go too hot into a corner, and all four tyres let go so very progressively and in unison that a driver with experience and reflexes will find it hard to resist the impulse to slide the car through the corner. And the next. And maybe the next one as well. The LPG variant is not tail-happy despite the extra weight of the tank in the boot.

The fly in the ointment is the controls going light once you cross 120kph. The steering still remains accurate, but the Cedia tends to feel like it’s floating over bumps instead of dealing with them and staying planted.

Braking, Tyres, Fuel Efficiency

Braking:
    The Cedia’s grippy tyres and ABS-equipped brakes help it come to a dead stop from 80kph in 30.4 metres. Bite, feel and progression are a match for the engine and the handling capabilities of the car.

Tyres:
    The Cedia is shod with Bridgestone Potenza G3 tyres of the size 190/60R15. This is one of the changes that makes the Cedia Sport a truly sporty variant. The Potenzas grip really well and are fairly quiet at speed over a variety of surfaces. Since they are made of a compound softer than is usual, they contribute towards softening the car’s ride.

Safety:
    The Cedia is equipped with ABS and two airbags, one each for the driver and front passenger.

Cost, Overall evaluation

At Rs 10.29 lakh, ex-showroom Mumbai, the Cedia is not exactly a value-for-money proposition; after all, for that money one can purchase a Linea, or with a little more money, a Corolla Altis or Civic. Mitsubishi and Hindustan Motors have also managed to bring the Cedia’s cost of ownership down by a fair amount during the time it has been on sale. However, the service network still isn’t as large as we’d have liked to be, and the thirsty petrol engine coupled with the poor resale value keep the Cedia firmly in the ‘niche’ segment – only if you have a passion for the Lancer’s rally heritage will you purchase this car. The Lancer with its reliability hasn’t become a tuner’s favourite for nothing, so if 115bhp isn’t enough for you, a lot more power and control is easy to extract from that race-bred engine and chassis.

 

 

Test Data

Engine Specifications

Add engine specifications View specifications

Speedo Error

Speedo Reading (kph) Actual Speed (kph)
40  38.2
60  59.2
80  11.9
100  96.5
120  117.4
140  135.6

Max in Gear

Gear Speed (kph@rpm)
1st  51.9@6300
2nd  95.6@6100
3rd  131@6100
4th  -
5th  -
6th -

Performance Test Data

Top Speed  
0-60kph  4.7secs
0-100kph  11.5secs
Quarter Mile (402m)  17.9secs@124.9kph
Braking 80-0kph  3.1secs@30.4m
30-50kph in 3rd  4.1secs
30-50kph in 4th  6.5secs
50-70kph in 5th  9.0secs

Fuel Efficiency

  City Highway Overall Worst
Mileage (kpl)     9.6kpl
 

***- Unable to achieve under the given test conditions.

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