We update the classic Mitsubishi Lancer GSR

Modernizing a ’70s rally icon
by Andrew Guerrero | Jul 14, 2021
ILLUSTRATION: Andrew Guerrero
CAR BRANDS IN THIS ARTICLE

One of the Japanese car icons of the ’70s is the first-generation A70 Mitsubishi Lancer, and one of the most popular versions in the Philippines was the mid-’70s L-Type, nicknamed after its L-shaped taillights.

The variant enthusiasts dreamed of owning was the 1600 GSR with a five-speed manual gearbox—this was the road-going version of the famed black-and-white Lancer rally car. While the 1600 GSR for public consumption might have only made over a hundred horsepower, it was the Evo Lancer of its era. We at Top Gear Philippines selected this legendary car as the icon to bring back.

Our modern Lancer GSR will be rear-wheel-drive like the original ’70s counterpart. Since Mitsubishi has no modern RWD car platform, I decided to make use of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance. In our own Digital Automotive Universe, Mitsubishi and Nissan co-developed a scalable rear-wheel-drive platform for heritage models for both brands. This modern architecture features independent MacPherson struts up front and an independent multi-link suspension setup at the back. The main structure will be a combination of different types of steel including high-strength steel. Aluminum will be used for some suspension components and body panels like the fenders and hood.

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The engine will also be a collaboration between Mitsubishi and Nissan. Our modern Lancer GSR will use a Mitsubishi-tuned turbocharged 1.6-liter in-line-four gasoline mill based on a Nissan MR16DDT block, modified for longitudinal mounting. This boosted powerplant will produce an estimated 220hp and 295Nm of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels either through a six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed automatic tranny with paddle shifters.

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Sound is also part of the car’s characteristics; we gave our modern GSR an exhaust system tuned to produce a throaty exhaust note with a dash of pops and crackles—imagine something close to a JCW Mini or a current BMW M135i.

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The ’70s Lancer’s styling is distinctive from pretty much any angle, and this was extremely helpful in the process of modernizing the classic design. We created a unique lighting signature by giving it DRLs that outline the shapes of both the large circular headlights and small inboard lights. Since it is a bottom breather like most modern cars, the upper grille of the original car has been replaced by a black gloss panel. Moving on to the sides, it retains the subtle “coke-bottle” curves of the original. At the back, it receives a modern LED interpretation of the iconic L-shaped taillights. Unlike the original car, the trunk opening extends down to the bumper.

Our modern Lancer measures 4242mm x 1740mm x 1374mm and rides on a 2527mm wheelbase. Standard wheels are 17-inch alloys shod with 215/45R17 tires with a diameter of 24.6-inches. The target curb weight for the manual transmission variant is under 1200kg.

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Our modern 220hp Lancer GSR will be priced somewhere in the P1.8-P1.9 million range, assuming it will be a completely built unit from Japan.

If Mitsubishi produced this modern Lancer GSR, would you consider it over a Hyundai Veloster or a Toyota 86?

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ILLUSTRATION: Andrew Guerrero
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