We were introduced to the Lancer Prototype-S at the 2008 Geneva show. There was no need to guess what the S stood for, as Mitsubishi was upfront about the production Sportback that would follow.
Two versions of the five-door hatchback will be launched initially in Europe. The base Lancer Sportback will be powered by a choice of 1.5- and 1.8-liter gasoline engines, or a 2.0-liter turbodiesel - all of which will send their power to the front wheels.
The Lancer Sportback Ralliart gets the same powertrain as the Lancer Ralliart sedan, which arrives in the U.S. soon. That car mixes the all-wheel-drive system from the Evo IX, Mitsubishi's new dual-clutch gearbox, and a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that develops 235 hp and 253 lb-ft of torque.
The Sportback's obvious advantage is the extra cargo space that the hatch in back affords. All Sportback models will have an adjustable cargo floor and folding seats with remote releases located in the cargo area. Mitsubishi hasn't announced the stuff-carrying volume of the new bodystyle, but we can assume it will beat the sedan's 11.6 cubic feet.
Sportback models will be available in Europe starting this fall. There's no word on whether the hatchback will make it Stateside, though Mitsubishi did say that the majority of production will be headed to the Continent. American Lancerphiles will no doubt hope that part of the remaining minority ends up in the U.S., and we see no better competition for Subaru's Impreza and Impreza WRX five-doors.