Ral­liart cuts to the chase

Mit­subishi adds zing to the mix, writes NEIL McDON­ALD

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

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.

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