Monday, August 27, 2012

Used Car Review - Mitsubishi Lancer GSR (1997-2002)

As the nation say goodbye to the Filipino month, Myk Belmonte treats everyone by featuring a daring vehicle. Filipinos feast on sedans, vans, AUVs, and even SUVs; but a two door coupe? Very rare in the Philippines, indeed. The vehicle for this week brought in two door fun for mainstream money.

1997-2002 Mitsubishi Lancer GSR

In the automobile kingdom, there exists a common four door body known as the sedan and his lesser brother, the two door style aka coupe. The latter body configuration was commonly seen in high performance vehicles which one can enjoy the ride (adding other passengers is a tight fit). But, there exists two door coupes that are tuned for luxury or everyday driving - and these represent a small niche of the automobile chain.

Among the Lancer family, only the first, sixth, and seventh generation variants had the two door configuration. The seventh generation model was the last Lancer having two doors on its body (apart from the regular sedan and a wagon). The Cedia body - introduced in year 2000 in Japan and years later in several markets - that preceded it never offered a coupe.

Launched a year later after the sedan version, the Lancer GSR was a niche vehicle that filled the void left by the Honda Civic hatchback years before. If the Lancer sedan were Aga Mulach or Toni Gonzaga, the Lancer GSR would be Nino Mulach or Alex Gonzaga, less popular siblings of famous artists. The GSR (there also exists a Lancer GSR from 2006-2007 in a sedan body) fills the role in a special market, adventurous single people. Production ended in 2002, without a direct replacement from the Lancer lineup and no successor from GSRs sedan counterparts sold locally.

Value and Costs
If you are in the market for a two door car but with less cash, the Lancer GSR is a bargain. With prices between P170,000-P250,000, it is slightly higher than the sedan but for a good reason. The Civic hatch - which is years older than the GSR - would set you back the same amount but the engine is fed via a carburetor and most of the units you'll see are already modified, making the hunt for a stock Civic hatchback a needle in a haystack. Beware of modified units that are made to imitate the Lancer Evolution (besides, the Evo was never offered in two door guise), these can be a pain to own.

One good thing about this vehicle is that, it shares vehicle parts with its sedan brethren. Nearly from the engine, suspension, and several major components are identical. In fact, other mechanical parts are available in original, replacement, and third party flavors. One common problem among Mitsubishi sedans in the 90s is the suspension system, so do have an eye on it. The idle air-control mechanism is such a rare replacement part, if yours break, get a new one rather than working on a stopgap measure.

Exterior and Interior
Majority of the GSRs exterior styling is derived - and can use the same synonyms - from the sedan. But the two front doors are slightly longer in length than the sedan, which is a disadvantage in parking lots. The roofline is shorter and same is true with the wheelbase. This vehicle emphasized sporty looks than overall practicality.

Loyal Lancer Pizza owners would feel at home inside the GSR, with the layout of the controls and the dashboard design being similar to the sedan version. Both driver and front passenger would get adequate room while the rear occupants - with the roofline a bit less - would complain for less room, that's if the occupant has above average height.

While the Lancer GSR is offered with the 4G92 1,597cc engine, two power updates had been done. Initial models have 115hp at 6,000rpm and 138Nm at 5,000rpm while 1998 and later models get 124hp and 150Nm with the same revs. The change in figures can be attributed to a different camshaft configuration, and an updated knock-sensor equipped EFI system. Performance wise, the Lancer is loves to be revved at but the adrenaline rush cannot be found.

Driving Impressions
Similar to the sedan version, the Lancer GSR holds well to the streets but handling won't beat the Civic EK during that time. You can attack corners due to the swiftness it provides, but it shows its limitations on tight bends. Visibility - especially at the rear - can take some time to be accustomed with, due to the raked lines and - in some models - the stock spoiler can be a distraction. To single guys out there, you and your beau can fit perfectly but tag along her friends at the rear, they will complain for cramps later.

There is a good point for not being popular. Donito Nonaire is one underrated boxer, while the Mitsubishi Lancer GSR is one unnoticeable vehicle in the market back then. It had good points as well as the bad, but with the economy in the loom during release time, the Lancer GSR might have been a hit with bachelors back then. It is a steal for P200,000 - if you are looking for something unique.

The Good:
  • Sporty looking
  • Bigger trunk than the sedan counterpart
  • Superb handling
The Bad:
  • Tight rear room (not big deal if you're driving alone)
  • Notorious kalampag problem
  • Rear visibility 
The Pick: 1998 onwards GSRs, to take advantage of the extra power

Engine: 1,597cc 4G92 I4 gasoline
Power: 115hp (1997) or 124hp (1998-2002) @ 6,000rpm
Torque: 138Nm (1997) or 150Nm (1998-2002) @ 5,000rpm
Fuel Consumption: 7-10km/L (city), 10-12km/L (highway) (*estimated and varies)
Transmission: 5-speed manual (1997-1999), 4-speed automatic (2000-2002)
Suspension: Front independent McPherson strut, rear independent multilink

Price (New): P526,000-P690,000 (range from 1997-2002)
Price (Now): P170,000-P250,000
Rivals: Honda Civic Hatchback (1992-1995), Hyundai Coupe
On Sale: 1997-2002

Citimotors Makati - 892-0331
Diamond Motors Marcos Highway - 645-4801
Union Motor Paco - 563-8481

Photos courtesy of


  1. This is a very good and informative review about
    the car. Thanks!

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