The Mitsubishi Lancer Juro isn’t a bad car. But then it isn’t a great car either. Indeed, I spent the first half of my week with the car bemoaning the fact that the car is so incredibly dull. But then, as the week went on I began to realise that this is perhaps the car’s biggest selling point. No, I’m not suggesting that Mitsubishi markets the car on a proposition of dullness, but there’s a lot to be said for good honest motoring. Let me explain.
The Juro is a special edition Lancer hatchback and can be bought for just £14,749. For this price you get the petrol engined model, but I was driving the 2.0 diesel and this puts the price up to £16,399. But consider this, the cheapest new Ford Focus is priced at £16,000 and believe me, you won’t get anywhere near the level of specification for that price. Pay attention as I’m about to list the standard kit on the Juro.
Ideally this should be read with the Generation Game theme tune in the background and in the style of Larry Grayson. OK, deep breath – leather seats, neat Kenwood multimedia system with sat nav, Bluetooth, steering wheel controls, reversing camera and iPod connection, 16″ alloy wheels, air conditioning, cruise control, front fogs, front and rear electric windows, electric folding mirrors, ISO-fix child seat mounting points, alarm, immobiliser, brake assist and emergency stop signal system. Phew. I’m sure that if you ask nicely, your local Mitsubishi dealer will gladly throw in a cuddly toy too.
So there’s no denying it, if you’re basing a new car decision on the price to toys ratio, the Mitsubishi Lancer Juro deserves to be on your shortlist. But what is it like to live with?
Well let’s start with the aesthetics and I know that looks are a subjective thing, but to my eyes the Lancer hatchback is no looker. Mitsubishi makes a big thing about the corporate ‘Jet Fighter’ grille, yet it never quite seems at home on any model other than the Evo X. And this has been discontinued. Many manufacturers work hard to introduce consistency across model ranges, but what it often leads to is bland uniformity and awkwardness.
This is demonstrated in no greater way than the Lancer hatchback. The front end seems totally at odds with the back. The only reasonable view of the car is from the front and fair play to Mitsubishi, this is one car that looks good in the rear wheel mirror – definite presence! But no matter what way you look at the rear end, it just looks wrong. Try as I might, I just couldn’t find a good angle. So I gave up. But then if you’re turned on by the conveyor belt of toys, you might not care. Especially as it isn’t you that has to look at it when you’re behind the wheel.
Talking of which, the interior is a mixed bag. It woud be easy to criticise the general blandness and lack of adventure on the inside, but I can’t help but applaud it. There’s a real simplicity to the dashboard that is lacking in many other new cars. Three big dials to control the heating and ventilation, a large central multimedia screen in the middle of the dash and an array of buttons on the steering wheel to control the music, telephone and cruise control. You won’t be wowed by it, but at the same time, you won’t be confused by it. The same can’t be said about the Kenwood touchscreen though. It takes some getting used to. But in general, the interior is a nice, if slightly boring place to be, lifted by the full leather seats.
Sadly, if you try a little spirited driving, you’ll soon find that these leather seats aren’t all that supportive. Figure hugging, Evolution spec Recaro seats they are not. Instead you find yourself being thrown from your perch at even the slightest bit of eager cornering. Not that you’ll be wanting to do much in the way of B-road thrashing.
Although the Lancer hatchback may have inherited some of the Evo DNA in the front end styling, it has been a little shortchanged in the dynamics department. Present the Lancer Juro with a smooth, slightly curvy A-road and it is relatively composed. But venture on to a B-road and you’ll soon find that it lacks sharpness or finesse.
There’s a lot of body roll and when this is combined with steering that’s almost completely devoid of any feel, you soon lose interest in having any fun. If capturing the occasional B-road moment is high on your list of priorities, then you’re better off opting for the entry level Ford Focus and do without the toys. Horses for courses.
The Volkswagen-derived diesel engine doesn’t help matters. The 140 bhp is enough to push the Lancer along at a reasonable enough pace, but it does so with a soundtrack that’s as pleasurable as listening to a We Buy Any Car TV advert; whilst being pelted with rusty nails. But at least it drowns out the road noise, which in itself is a constant annoyance.
In many ways the 2.0-litre diesel is a reminder why this is called PetrolBlog as it encapsulates all that I dislike about diesels. The engine also needs to be pushed hard to get the most out of it, though this doesn’t help your ears or indeed, your wallet. But if you decide to take life at a more leisurely pace, you will be rewarded at the pumps. Even without trying I was seeing MPG figures in the low 50s, so Mitsubishi’s claimed figure of 56.5 MPG combined seems fair enough. Even I, with my obvious petrol bias, can’t deny that the fuel economy is impressive.
Is it impressive enough for me to consider buying one? Well not really, but then I’m not sure the car is really aimed at me. But despite my reservations about the Lancer’s styling, dynamics and engine, I can’t help but feel that the car has a real place on the market. If you value equipment and reliability over image and excitement, then the limited edition Lancer Juro presents a very strong case for consideration.
The diesel’s fuel economy is appealing, but if you don’t travel that many miles, the petrol version at £14,749 could be even more attractive. Either way, it is worth considering the Mitsubishi Service Plan which covers the first three scheduled services. It costs £400 for the petrol and £450 for the diesel and seems like good value to me and according to Mitsubishi, 90% of buyers take up the option.
The Lancer Juro is real honest motoring personified. An example of what a manufacturer can do when it keeps things simple. It will never excite you and you’ll never find yourself relishing the thought of a journey in the car. But then it will probably never leave you stranded on the hard shoulder and will still be running long after more exotic cars have given up the ghost.
It isn’t for me, but I know a lot of people would would be perfectly happy with the car.