Ralliart has come up with a fun sports package that won’t dent the wallet as much as a full-house Evo
It’s never easy being the middle man. Such is the case with the new turbo all-wheel-drive Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart hatchback and sedan.
Wedged between the sporty yet mild-mannered 2.4-litre Lancer VRX and the fully-blown Evolution sedan the new Ralliart performance duo are a pleasant blend of value and performance, aimed fair and square at Subaru’s long-standing WRX, the Golf GTi, Ford’s XR5 Focus and the Astra SRi turbo.
Priced from $42,490, against the much dearer $59,490 Evo 10, the new Ralliart five-door hatch (Mitsubishi call it a Sportback) and four-door sedan carry the sporting genes and heritage established by Ralliart from 1984 to serve as the core of Mitsubishi’s motor sport involvement.
The Ralliart twins have a distinctly sporty appearance via a more aggressive shark nose, a pronounced open mouth grille with chrome surround, large bonnet scoops, a rear spoiler and sporty 10-spoke 18-inch alloys, although the latter are disappointingly shared with the cheaper VRX.
Both Ralliart Lancers feature a detuned version of the Evo turbocharged and intercooled 2.0-litre DOHC four-cylinder engine linked to the twin clutch sport shift transmission (TC-SST). With 177kW of power at 6000 revs, the performance is not the “kick in the guts variety”; more subdued, but nevertheless producing a fairly rapid performance.
In fact, it takes some revs for the turbo to get on the boil but, when it does, it’s sweet and purposeful. Maximum torque of 343Nm, only 23 Nm less than the Evo, is achieved fairly high in the rev range at 4750 revs.
The performance from both normal and sport driving modes via the super-slick dual-clutch auto can easily be tapped via steering wheel paddles. Tthe sport mode is the more satisfying for the performance-skewed driver and very rewarding, especially in the 35kg lighter sedan.
Mitsubishi claims a five-speed manual transmission is not available in the short term, but don’t be disappointed. The automated manual six-speeder seamlessly preselects its gears, is fast and is a delight to use.
Its suspension -- McPherson strut up front and multi-link at the rear -- copes with varying surface changes with confidence, is superbly neutral in feel and really displays the experience Mitsubishi has gained through its Ralliart division.
Throw in the same all-wheel-drive package with active centre differential as the barn-storming Evo 10 and the Ralliart twins are competent and polished sports performers, the sedan perhaps best emulating its higher-performance sibling.
The sedan is the better looker as well with the Sportback at some rear angles perhaps a little gawky but nevertheless a well-sized and roomy five-door.
Inside, the three-way adjustable front seats and 60/40 split/folding rears get Ralliart sports cloth trim, offset with aluminium pedals and a geometric print on the instrumentation, door and front console. However, for sports variants the interior is somewhat subdued and conservative for what are, after all, younger skewed models.
The 11-model CJ Lancer range has been Mitsubishi Motors Australia’s saving grace since the demise of its locally built 380 sedan. Its basic Sportback variants have arrived at a crucial time to further lift Lancer sales while the new Ralliart duo really add a welcome sports dimension.
Just how they fare, against the WRX and GTi in particular, only time will tell.
FAST FACTS 2008 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart
Body: sedan and sportback
Weight: 1555/1590kg sedan/sportback
Drivetrain: four-wheel-drive with centre diff
Engine: 2.0-litre 16-valve turbo four-cylinder
Transmission: six-speed dual clutch auto
Power/Torque: 177kW @ 6000rpm / 343Nm @ 4725rpm