2008 Mitsubishi Lancer at the 2007 Detroit Show

The new Lancer is important for two main reasons: It gives us a preview of the basic;shape of the Lancer Evolution X and its sales could decide whether Mitsubishi will hang around to sell that car.

The 2008 Lancer is step two in Mitsubishi’s let’s save ourselves in America plan, following the Outlander SUV that recently hit the market. Based on the same platform as the Outlander, the Lancer will do battle with some tough competition, including the Honda Civic and the Saturn Aura when it goes on sale in early 2007. Compared to the outgoing model, the new car has a longer wheelbase and wider track, but a shorter overall length. Power comes from an aluminum 2.0-liter in-line four with 152 hp (143 in PZEV states). The base transmission will be a five-speed manual, while a continuously variable transmission-Mitsubishi’s first in the states-is optional. On the GTS model, the CVT gets paddle shifters and a sport mode that simulates six gears for a more involving drive. Three models-DE, ES, and GTS-will be available on launch, but sources tell us that a turbocharged Ralliart model isn’t too far off.

Get more pictures in our Detroit show preview here.

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