DRIVE the Lancer Ralliart and you wonder why any performance fan would bother with a manual gearbox.
The TC-SST transmission, similar to Porsche’s PDK twin-clutch, is a joy to use and provides enough excitement in ‘‘sports’’ mode to keep all but a diehard turbo hot-rodder engaged.
The six-speed gearbox is smooth around town, seamlessly preselecting gears.
It mates well with the turbo four but things do not really start happening until you’re beyond 2500 revs.
This may have something to do with the move to a single scroll turbocharger in place of the Evo’s twin-scroll unit because in full automatic operation, the Lancer needs some revs to give its best.
Once above 2500 revs, though, the bells and whistles start singin’ and ringin’ in the sweet-revving four.
Settle down to some highway cruising, though, and the car is stable, surefooted and quiet inside.
Only some wind-rush from the exterior mirrors interrupts the cabin’s ambience.
In the twisty bits, there is plenty of steering feedback and reassuring turn-in. Both the sedan and hatch remain neutral whether under full power or brakes.
Visually, both the Ralliart sedan and hatch are tidy cars and an exercise in discretion.
The body kit is subdued, the air intakes blend into the bonnet and the 18-inch alloys, shared with the VRX, look good.
Only the sedan’s high-set spoiler upsets the visual harmony. It also restricts rear visibility.
Overall, the Lancer Ralliart has a well-sorted chassis.
In some respects it is more liveable than the full-blown Evo and more exciting than the garden-variety VRX.
Which is what Mitsubishi set out to achieve.