The Lancer Ralliart has inherited some of its family’s best features, writes NEIL McDONALD
AMIDDLE child can sometimes miss out on the aspirations held for the first-born and the attention lavished on the last-born. But being the middle child in the Lancer sports family has never been better.
The turbocharged, all-wheel-drive Ralliart Lancer is an amalgam of all that’s good about its siblings, the VRX and the hot-shot Evolution X.
The Ralliart is available as a sedan or a hatch — Sportback in Mitsubishi-speak.
It is aimed squarely at the Subaru WRX but also at the Golf GTi, Astra SRi turbo and Ford Focus XR5.
In the 11-model Lancer line-up it sits between the mild-mannered 2.4-litre VRX and the uber-hot turbocharged 2.0-litre Evolution.
The Ralliart is priced at $42,490, well below the Evolution’s $59,490.
Mitsubishi product strategy manager Chris Maxsted says the turbo Ralliart is a strategic car for the brand, particularly because it’s available as a sedan and a hatch.
Like the Impreza WRX, having a choice of body styles will appeal to a broader range of buyers, he says.
‘‘The hatch looks more sporty but the Ralliart sedan looks like the Evo sedan, so it will appeal to a few wannabe Evo owners,’’ Maxted says.
The mild- mannered Ralliart shares a detuned version of the 2.0-litre turbocharged and intercooled twin- cam four- cylinder engine from the Evolution. ESPITE re-tuning, the engine delivers plenty of punch — 177kW at 6000 revs and 343Nm at 4750 revs, down 50kW and 23Nm on the Evo.
A single-scroll lower-boost turbocharger replaces the twin-scroll unit.
But like the Evo, the 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine is mated to a Getrag- sourced six- speed twin clutch sport shift transmission (TCSST), complete with steering wheel paddle shifters.
In its Ralliart application, the transmission offers two driving modes, Normal and Sport, losing the track-ready S-sport mode.
The Ralliart’s sports suspension is similar to the VRX but gets thicker stabiliser bars. The sedan gets folddown rear seats in place of the bracing of the Evo.
Then there’s the aluminium bonnet, active centre differential allwheel-drive system and a mechanical limited-slip differential, rather than the Evo’s electronic yaw control rear differential.
‘‘In essence, the Ralliart driveline is probably like the Evo VIII,’’ Maxsted says.
Mitsubishi is aware some drivers may prefer the five-speed manual, but it is not expected to be available soon, according to Maxsted. He has not ruled it out longer term.
‘‘Autos account for about 30 per cent of the high-performance smallcar market,’’ he says. ‘‘I think the market will move to whichever is the better transmission.’’
Both the sedan and hatch gain
Dsome distinct styling and enhancements above the VRX.
Inside, the Ralliart gets distinctive ‘‘Ralliart’’ sports trim, aluminium pedals, three-way adjustable front seats, rain-sensing wipers and climate control airconditioning.
Stand-alone options include the high-performance $750 Rockford Fosgate stereo. Metallic or pearlescent paint is $350.
The Rockford Fosgate system can also be packaged with a sunroof for $2350, as well as the sunroof and navigation system for $4750.
Middle of the road: the Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart Sportback will appeal to enthusiasts who are guided by their hip pockets.