In our last edition of Buy/Drive/Burn, we considered the Mazda Protegé, Mitsubishi Mirage, and Subaru Impreza sedans from 1998. Most of you preferred the Protegé as your Buy of the three. Today we fast forward to the same offerings in 2008, and see if things shake out differently.
Note: We’ve chosen mid-range trims for the Mazda and Mitsubishi as the base Impreza is notably more expensive than the other two in basic form.
Mazda ditched the Protegé name after 2003, probably in an attempt to escape its well-known rust issues across the nation. For 2008 the 3 is in the final year of its first-generation, as a new model promises to continue the 3’s sales success in 2009. On offer in sedan or hatchback body styles, the 3 is available in eight different trims and shares its platform with the Ford Focus and Volvo S40. Today’s trim is the middle-range i Touring Value (weird name) sedan, which uses the smaller of the four-cylinder engines available. With 2.0 liters of displacement, the 3 produces 148 horsepower sent through the front wheels via the five-speed manual. Its ask is $16,595.
Mitsubishi also abandoned its smallest brand, Mirage, in the North American market after 2001. Its replacement in 2002 was the very slightly larger Lancer. Lancer is in its ninth global generation this year and is all-new for 2008. Based on the Chrysler-Mitsubishi GS platform, the new Lancer is available initially only as a sedan. Trims are three in number: DE, ES, or GTS. The ES is today’s choice at $16,090, and offers a 2.0-liter inline-four good for 152 horses. The power is allocated to the front wheels via the five-speed manual transmission.
Impreza is also new for 2008, as Subaru debuts its third-generation model around the globe. Like the Mazda, Impreza is available in sedan and hatchback formats; the Impreza wagon becomes a thing of the past. Four trims on Impreza range from the very basic 2.5i through the expensive and racy WRX STi. The base 2.5i trim asks $16,995 as it comes standard with Subaru’s all-wheel-drive system. The boxer-four engine produces 170 horsepower, sent through all four corners via the five-speed manual.
Which of these three compact sedans is worth a Buy with your Great Recession 2008 dollars?
[Images: Mazda, Mitsubishi, Subaru]
Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by subscribing to our newsletter.