Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart 2009 Review

Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart 2009 Review

mitsubishi-lancer-ralliart-fq2

We all need a bit of back up sometimes, Batman has Robin, Shrek has Donkey, Vogel’s toast has Marmite and the Subaru Impreza STI has the Subaru Impreza WRX.  But where is the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution’s super sidekick? It’s been 10 years since the Lancer GSR hung up its guns leaving the Evo to race the badlands alone.  But now, there’s a new deputy in town with Mitsubishi’s latest recruit — the Ralliart Lancer.

The new Ralliart is assigned to the expansive performance gap that exists between the top spec Lancer Evo and the mid-range Lancer VRX model. While there is no doubt the Ralliart is a performance model it’s not expected to show the raw aggression of the current Evo X, so what’s the difference?

Before specification and performance the most obvious difference is price. The EVO is Mitsubishi’s hero model and is valued accordingly at $67,990 with manual transmission and $72,990 with a twin-clutch auto. The Ralliart is priced at $49,990, around $20k less than the Evo and offers more affordable performance, but with what concessions?

Powering the Ralliart is a diluted version of the Evo mill. Using the same all aluminum block, turbocharged 2-litre four-cylinder motor the Ralliart is good for 180kW of grunt and 349Nm of torque. This is a 40kW reduction from the higher spec Evo due to a single-scroll turbocharger (instead of a twin) a smaller intercooler, different intake plumbing and a 6500-rpm redline (7K on the Evo). However this harsh comparison with the kingpin Evo shouldn’t leave the Ralliart with major inadequacy issues for it’s a hard hitter in its own right.

The Ralliart achieves the 0-100k sprint in just under 6 seconds and the acceleration is suitably peaky and exciting. But without any degree of launch mode, off-the-line acceleration can be sluggish until the turbo brings the noise. This lag can take a good second which isn’t much but can still feel like an eternity. Once up to speed the Ralliart offers the kind of heavy mid-range punch usually reserved for David Tua opponents and in the upper power-band the delivery is linear and easily managed.

The Ralliart utilises Mitsubishi’s twin-clutch SST (Sequential Sportshift Transmission) six-speed auto transmission. It’s a very useful and interesting unit that makes a worthy offsider for the Ralliart’s modern engine. Always eager to get busy on the driver’s behalf the TC-SST box shifts at lightning speed and is never afraid to blip the throttle and chop down a gear even at high rpm. The sounds of gears and clutches clicking away are not overly insulated from the driver which adds to the rawness of the Ralliart experience. The TC-SST has an available sport mode that holds the vehicle in lower gears longer and squeezes out every drop of power. Manual shift options are available with steering wheel mounted paddles and through the stubby floor shifter, but with an auto transmission this advanced they are seldom needed.

On the windy roads the Ralliart can’t match the bravado of its Evo big-brother but it still has plenty of on-road bite. Using a no-nonsense all-wheel drive system the Ralliart has front and rear limited slip differentials (LSD) and an active centre differential that regulates torque to where it’s needed most. Three handy settings are available thanks to the centre diff — gravel, snow and tarmac. This 3-diff set-up makes for very good balance and the Ralliart can be pointed into corners easily and then powered out early and with haste. When nearing its limits a very gentle and controllable oversteer is felt giving the driver a shoulder-tap to ease off.

The Ralliart’s steering is very quick and focused – it’s firm to handle and offers a high-level of feedback. This does at times translate into steering wheel movement during cornering but most performance car enthusiasts would appreciate the communication.

Suspension is suitably firm but not even close to the harsh ride dished out by the Evo, giving the Ralliart an alert feel while still retaining a decent level of comfort. Road noise however does intrude into overall ride comfort and although a part of the Ralliart’s road-connected character can become annoying on long journeys.

Visually, the Ralliart isn’t far removed from the Evo, sporting the same air-scooped aluminum bonnet and large gulping front grille. Sharp and distinctive lines run throughout cumulating in a flashy rear spoiler. Multi-spoked 18-inch rims, twin exhaust pipes and chrome touches on the bodywork finish off the look.

Inside the Ralliart shares the same interior as the entire Lancer range: it’s dark with hard plastics and highly functional. The mix of silver and black is effective, if not a touch conservative, and the orange/black illumination on the display screens and instruments is easy to read. Deeply contoured Recaro bucket seats lifted from the EVO come as standard, these offer great bolstered support during spirited driving, but have no vertical adjustment which won’t suit shorter drivers. The tested model came with the brilliant 6-disc changer Rockford-Fosgate stereo with subwoofer. Overall the interior is ok, the materials are adequate but it works as a reminder that underneath the performance still sits an economy car.

If things go bang the Ralliart has its safety bases covered with a gang of seven airbags including front-seat mounted airbags, two-row side airbags, and a driver’s knee airbag. Antilock brakes and electronic stability control are also ready to help out.

There is no doubt that Mitsubishi’s ranks have been strengthened by the introduction of the Ralliart Lancer and it’s an awesome offsider for the Evo. It offers exciting acceleration, Evo-styling and a good equipment list all at a palatable price. In fact, when balancing the books in terms of value for money, specification and performance some potential Evo buyers may be persuaded by its charms and become willing to make the required compromises and favour the Ralliart. This healthy internal competition can only help the dueling Lancers in their continuing showdown with the Subaru Impreza.

Click through to the next page for a list of specifications.

Price: from $49,990

What we like:

  • Fun car to drive
  • Handsome styling
  • Reasonable price
  • Excellent auto transmission
  • Bring on the modifications!

What we don’t like:

  • Slow off the mark
  • Road noise
  • Has to run on 98 octane
  • Will the target market really enjoy the constant beeping while it’s in reverse?

Words and Photos: Adam Mamo

Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart – Specifications

Engine – LB6RAE41

Displacement (cc) 1,998
Max power (DIN) kW @ rpm 180 @ 6,000
Max torque (DIN) Nm @ rpm 349 @ 3,000
Bore and stroke (mm) 86.0 x 86.0
Compression ratio 9.0:1
Fuel consumption – l/100km 10.0
CO2 g/km 233
Fuel tank capacity (litres) 55
Fuel type premium unleaded 98

Dimensions / Weights

Overall length (mm) 4,570
Overall width (mm) 1,760
Overall height (mm)  1,490
Wheelbase (mm)  2,635
Track front (mm) 1,530
Track rear (mm) 1,530
Turning circle (m) 10.0
Kerb weight (kg) 1,555
GVW (kg) 2,025
Head room – front (mm) 950
Head room – rear (mm) 895
Trunk volume by VDA (litres) 293
Towing capacity with brakes (kg) 1,000
Towing capacity without brakes (kg) 550

mitsubishi-lancer-ralliart-fq2

We all need a bit of back up sometimes, Batman has Robin, Shrek has Donkey, Vogel’s toast has Marmite and the Subaru Impreza STI has the Subaru Impreza WRX.  But where is the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution’s super sidekick? It’s been 10 years since the Lancer GSR hung up its guns leaving the Evo to race the badlands alone.  But now, there’s a new deputy in town with Mitsubishi’s latest recruit — the Ralliart Lancer.

The new Ralliart is assigned to the expansive performance gap that exists between the top spec Lancer Evo and the mid-range Lancer VRX model. While there is no doubt the Ralliart is a performance model it’s not expected to show the raw aggression of the current Evo X, so what’s the difference?

Before specification and performance the most obvious difference is price. The EVO is Mitsubishi’s hero model and is valued accordingly at $67,990 with manual transmission and $72,990 with a twin-clutch auto. The Ralliart is priced at $49,990, around $20k less than the Evo and offers more affordable performance, but with what concessions?

Powering the Ralliart is a diluted version of the Evo mill. Using the same all aluminum block, turbocharged 2-litre four-cylinder motor the Ralliart is good for 180kW of grunt and 349Nm of torque. This is a 40kW reduction from the higher spec Evo due to a single-scroll turbocharger (instead of a twin) a smaller intercooler, different intake plumbing and a 6500-rpm redline (7K on the Evo). However this harsh comparison with the kingpin Evo shouldn’t leave the Ralliart with major inadequacy issues for it’s a hard hitter in its own right.

The Ralliart achieves the 0-100k sprint in just under 6 seconds and the acceleration is suitably peaky and exciting. But without any degree of launch mode, off-the-line acceleration can be sluggish until the turbo brings the noise. This lag can take a good second which isn’t much but can still feel like an eternity. Once up to speed the Ralliart offers the kind of heavy mid-range punch usually reserved for David Tua opponents and in the upper power-band the delivery is linear and easily managed.

The Ralliart utilises Mitsubishi’s twin-clutch SST (Sequential Sportshift Transmission) six-speed auto transmission. It’s a very useful and interesting unit that makes a worthy offsider for the Ralliart’s modern engine. Always eager to get busy on the driver’s behalf the TC-SST box shifts at lightning speed and is never afraid to blip the throttle and chop down a gear even at high rpm. The sounds of gears and clutches clicking away are not overly insulated from the driver which adds to the rawness of the Ralliart experience. The TC-SST has an available sport mode that holds the vehicle in lower gears longer and squeezes out every drop of power. Manual shift options are available with steering wheel mounted paddles and through the stubby floor shifter, but with an auto transmission this advanced they are seldom needed.

On the windy roads the Ralliart can’t match the bravado of its Evo big-brother but it still has plenty of on-road bite. Using a no-nonsense all-wheel drive system the Ralliart has front and rear limited slip differentials (LSD) and an active centre differential that regulates torque to where it’s needed most. Three handy settings are available thanks to the centre diff — gravel, snow and tarmac. This 3-diff set-up makes for very good balance and the Ralliart can be pointed into corners easily and then powered out early and with haste. When nearing its limits a very gentle and controllable oversteer is felt giving the driver a shoulder-tap to ease off.

The Ralliart’s steering is very quick and focused – it’s firm to handle and offers a high-level of feedback. This does at times translate into steering wheel movement during cornering but most performance car enthusiasts would appreciate the communication.

Suspension is suitably firm but not even close to the harsh ride dished out by the Evo, giving the Ralliart an alert feel while still retaining a decent level of comfort. Road noise however does intrude into overall ride comfort and although a part of the Ralliart’s road-connected character can become annoying on long journeys.

Visually, the Ralliart isn’t far removed from the Evo, sporting the same air-scooped aluminum bonnet and large gulping front grille. Sharp and distinctive lines run throughout cumulating in a flashy rear spoiler. Multi-spoked 18-inch rims, twin exhaust pipes and chrome touches on the bodywork finish off the look.

Inside the Ralliart shares the same interior as the entire Lancer range: it’s dark with hard plastics and highly functional. The mix of silver and black is effective, if not a touch conservative, and the orange/black illumination on the display screens and instruments is easy to read. Deeply contoured Recaro bucket seats lifted from the EVO come as standard, these offer great bolstered support during spirited driving, but have no vertical adjustment which won’t suit shorter drivers. The tested model came with the brilliant 6-disc changer Rockford-Fosgate stereo with subwoofer. Overall the interior is ok, the materials are adequate but it works as a reminder that underneath the performance still sits an economy car.

If things go bang the Ralliart has its safety bases covered with a gang of seven airbags including front-seat mounted airbags, two-row side airbags, and a driver’s knee airbag. Antilock brakes and electronic stability control are also ready to help out.

There is no doubt that Mitsubishi’s ranks have been strengthened by the introduction of the Ralliart Lancer and it’s an awesome offsider for the Evo. It offers exciting acceleration, Evo-styling and a good equipment list all at a palatable price. In fact, when balancing the books in terms of value for money, specification and performance some potential Evo buyers may be persuaded by its charms and become willing to make the required compromises and favour the Ralliart. This healthy internal competition can only help the dueling Lancers in their continuing showdown with the Subaru Impreza.

Click through to the next page for a list of specifications.

Price: from $49,990

What we like:

  • Fun car to drive
  • Handsome styling
  • Reasonable price
  • Excellent auto transmission
  • Bring on the modifications!

What we don’t like:

  • Slow off the mark
  • Road noise
  • Has to run on 98 octane
  • Will the target market really enjoy the constant beeping while it’s in reverse?

Words and Photos: Adam Mamo

Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart – Specifications

Engine – LB6RAE41

Displacement (cc) 1,998
Max power (DIN) kW @ rpm 180 @ 6,000
Max torque (DIN) Nm @ rpm 349 @ 3,000
Bore and stroke (mm) 86.0 x 86.0
Compression ratio 9.0:1
Fuel consumption – l/100km 10.0
CO2 g/km 233
Fuel tank capacity (litres) 55
Fuel type premium unleaded 98

Dimensions / Weights

Overall length (mm) 4,570
Overall width (mm) 1,760
Overall height (mm)  1,490
Wheelbase (mm)  2,635
Track front (mm) 1,530
Track rear (mm) 1,530
Turning circle (m) 10.0
Kerb weight (kg) 1,555
GVW (kg) 2,025
Head room – front (mm) 950
Head room – rear (mm) 895
Trunk volume by VDA (litres) 293
Towing capacity with brakes (kg) 1,000
Towing capacity without brakes (kg) 550

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