What it Is
2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart Preview – Detroit Auto Show: With a starting price of $32,999, the 2008 Lancer Evolution GSR is expensive, no doubt. In fact, it comes in considerably more than the car it replaces, and leaves a gaping hole between it and the non-turbo Lancer GSR in terms of price and performance. Thus, the Lancer Ralliart is born, with a price in the mid-$20,000 range and an on-sale date of this summer. With a lower price point, fewer bells and whistles but many of the performance goodies of the Evolution, the Ralliart promises to knock the socks off the Subaru WRX, its primary competitor.
Why it Matters
We like the new Evolution, and think it's the best Evolution ever made. However, the price is quite dear, and will likely keep many Evo enthusiasts out of the driver's seat. By creating a model under the Evolution, Mitsubishi accomplishes three goals. First, it sells more cars, since the Ralliart will cost less than the Evolution. Second, it fills a yawning $13,000 gap between the Lancer GSR and the Evolution. Finally, it creates a competitor for the Subaru WRX, thus splitting the previous Evolution line into two separate vehicles.
What's Under the Hood
The engine is essentially a detuned version of the Evolution's engine. Final power numbers weren’t released, but Mitsubishi estimates peak output of 235 horses, all routed through the same six-speed Twin Clutch-SST automated-manual transmission that’s found on the Evolution MR. Also included is the Active Center Differential, but the Evolution’s Active Yaw Control is not available, further differentiating the model.
What it Looks Like
Visually, there's little to distinguish the Lancer Ralliart from its more expensive brother. The same wide-mouth grille, aluminum hood with scoop and other visual cues are all present, although the rear wing is the slightly less aggressive version from the Lancer GSR. The Evolution’s other lightweight aluminum parts are absent, however.
The interior of the Lancer Ralliart is pretty much the same as the rest of the Lancer lineup, for better and for worse. On the plus side is the clean layout, nicely styled gauges, and the availability of Bluetooth, Recaro seats, a 650 watt Rockford Fosgate audio system, a sunroof and a 30 GB hard drive navigation system. On the list of negatives is the plethora of hard plastic everywhere you look and touch.
What Mitsubishi Says
According to Mitsubishi: “The Lancer Ralliart model is the latest addition to the sporty Lancer compact car family. This new model reinforces the sporty identity of the Lancer lineup (Lancer, Lancer Ralliart and Lancer Evolution) with aggressive styling and driving performance to be well positioned between the Lancer and the Lancer Evolution models.”
What We Think
The Ralliart is a much-needed addition to the line of Lancer performance models, especially with the Lancer GSR being upgraded to the 168 horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder. With the less complicated standard mechanical front and rear differentials, we think the Ralliart may in fact become the tuner’s choice.
By Keith Buglewicz
MyRide Road Test Editor