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But if this didn’t happen—the thoroughly wicked, glowering, new Lancer look you see here—then it would just have been as easy to dismiss the car as something that failed to live up to its stellar history, and whose future might just be equally dismal. It would be too heartbreaking.

You have to understand the Pinoys’ love affair with the Lancer was passionate and immediate. When the first generation was launched in 1973, the compact sprinter of the ‘70s oil crisis—a World Rally victor—easily became the car of choice among the early, groovy fast-and-furious types. Then the second-gen box-type arrived and it became the National Car. Practically everyone drove it. For years. You still see both cars on the road today, pogi pa rin, and the box type was hailed by Top Gear Philippines as the sexiest car of all time.

Then something went wrong along the way. The Lancer lost it in the ‘90s in the name of better aerodynamics. The attitude and overall sex was gone. Contributing some mild embarrassment were the nicknames some key Lancer models took. The ’92 version was called the “itlog” and the ’96, the “pizza” in reference to its rear lights.


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