The Lancer Ral­liart has in­her­ited some of its fam­ily’s best fea­tures, writes NEIL McDON­ALD

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News -

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.

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