Ralliart cuts to the chase
Mitsubishi adds zing to the mix, writes NEIL McDONALD
THE Ralliart revolution is finally on a roll. Launched three years ago, the Team Mitsubishi Ralliart performance franchise has not reached the heights of its local rivals.
But the arrival last week of the Lancer Ralliart is a pointer to the future.
Mitsubishi Australia executives believe the Lancer Ralliart will send a strong performance message to enthusiasts. It will enhance a range that already consists of the Lancer Evo, Colt Ralliart and soon a Triton Ralliart.
The company is also looking at the possibility of an Outlander Ralliart, but more work is needed.
In Europe Mitsubishi has just announced the 2.2-litre Di-D turbodiesel Outlander, an engine still under consideration locally, will soon get the Evo’s SST six-speed gearbox.
On the back of an energised Ralliart business, Mitsubishi Australia president Rob McEniry is looking to the prospect of a bigger commitment to local rallying.
McEniry admits competition is a key part of Ralliart’s future, ‘‘but not just yet’’.
‘‘We’d love to. Where we can, we support some privateers, but it’s very low key. We’d like to get back to being a little more up front about it. But to do that you really have to put a team together and get sponsors and a team.’’
McEniry believes a performance side of Mitsubishi’s business ‘‘is very important’’.
‘‘That’s what attracts people and it certainly acts as a halo for the brand.’’
He is confident he can sell 3000 Ralliart models a year.
Dealers are confident, too. There are 80 TMR dealers nationally, up from the original 27 at launch.
The arrival of the Evolution has spurred interest. Company product strategy manager Chris Maxsted says the $71,690 Evolution MR sedan has become hot property, selling out until next month. ‘‘It’s running ahead of our plan,’’ he says.
Maxsted expects to sell about 150 Lancer Ralliarts a month, against about 150 Subaru WRXs and 200 Golf GTis.
In the short term, McEniry sees exchange rates and the slump of the Australia dollar as critical to the car business.
‘‘I think the market will take some price increases and I don’t think that’s a bad thing because the market has taken some hits with specifications and pricing,’’ he says.
As an importer, Mitsubishi is tracking well this year despite the new car slump. It has an overall market share of 6.1 per cent.
‘‘We have been well ahead of the market for most of the year and we expect to stay well ahead of the market,’’ Maxsted says.
Serious: the Lancer Ralliart adds bite to the Mitsubishi performance business.