DETROIT – Mitsubishi Motors North America says it will offer its new Lancer compact car with a next-generation common-rail turbodiesel engine, beginning in 2010.

The new-generation ’08 Lancer goes on sale in March at U.S. Mitsubishi dealerships, meaning the diesel mill will be debuting mid-cycle.

Mitsubishi Motors Corp. currently is developing a turbodiesel engine with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for European export models.

The engine in the U.S.-spec Lancer will be based on this powerplant, which will use a diesel particulate filter and oxides of nitrogen trap to meet U.S. Tier 2 Bin 5 emissions regulations.

Mitsubishi joins fellow Japanese auto makers Honda Motor Co. Ltd. and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. in planning to bring to the U.S. market a diesel capable of being sold in all 50 states.

It will be the first time since 1985, when it sold a diesel pickup truck, that Mitsubishi has offered a diesel engine option in the U.S.

Other features include an aluminum block; common-rail fuel-injection system with piezohydraulic injectors; and a new variable-geometry/variable diffuser turbocharger for quick and powerful response, Mitsubishi says.

Turbo lag is minimized thanks to varying degrees of exhaust turbine flow because of the turbocharger’s design, the auto maker says, adding the diffuser will vary flow from compression to intake, providing even better power and fuel efficiency.

Horsepower and torque figures for the new diesel have not been finalized.

Meanwhile, the Prototype X model unveiled here at the 2007 North American International Auto Show hints at the upcoming Lancer Evolution, going on sale in first-quarter 2008.

The Prototype X has an all-new 2L DOHC turbocharged I-4 as well as Mitsubishi’s new Super-All Wheel Control (S-AWC) all-wheel-drive system, both of which will be offered in the production Lancer Evolution.

The new 2L turbo’s aluminum engine block is 53.4 lbs. (20 kg) lighter than the outgoing iron-block in the 4G63 series engine of the current Evolution, the auto maker says, adding a bulkhead-side exhaust placement lowers the center of gravity.

Large water jackets and metal areas surrounding the block’s siamesed cylinder bores provide high inherent strength, Mitsubishi says.

An automated manual transmission with paddle shifters made of magnesium are featured in the Prototype X and next-generation Lancer Evolution. Mitsubishi says it is a true automated manual similar to those found in high-end sports cars and not a conventional torque-converter automatic.

The Lancer Evolution also will have a 5-speed manual, the auto maker says.

S-AWC combines stability control with full-time 4-wheel drive, an active center differential with a yaw control rear differential and active skid control.

As before, the new Lancer Evolution will have a unique suspension system, with forged aluminum parts replacing steel stamped components. Mitsubishi credits the Lancer’s new rigid C platform for providing a “more compliant and stable ride than before without compromising handling performance.”

Creature comforts in the upcoming Lancer Evolution include a 650-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system, hard-disk navigation system with music server and Bluetooth hands-free phone link.

“The next Evolution will offer major gains in handling dynamics and technology while maintaining the kind of thrilling turbo engine performance that has made the model a street legend around the world,” Mitsubishi says.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com