2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart

David Gluckman

For now, the only transmission offered is Mitsubishi's new Twin-Clutch SST, first seen on the Evolution MR. We say "for now" because a manual might be added in the future if demand is there. The changes made to the TC-SST for this application reflect the Ralliart's more practical, less-track-focused nature - fifth and sixth gears are taller for increased fuel economy, and the number of shift modes has been reduced from three to two. (Normal and Sport modes remain, while S-Sport is reserved for the Evo MR.)

The all-wheel-drive system is borrowed from an Evo as well, but not the newest iteration. The Evolution IX mechanicals include helical front and mechanical rear limited-slip differentials, as well as Mitsubishi's Active Center Differential. Drivers can select Gravel, Snow, or Tarmac settings that govern the behavior of the ACD.

But It's Not an Evo?

At this point, you may be thinking that the Lancer Raliart sounds a lot like a detuned Evo X, rather than the improved GTS that Mitsubishi would have us believe it is. One look at the suspension should erase that thought, since most of its parts are from the Lancer GTS. The front suspension is mostly a carryover, with dampers tuned for the Ralliart's personality and an anti-roll bar that measures 22 mm in diameter instead of the 21-mm bar on the GTS. The multi-link rear is a modified GTS setup that now accommodates the Ralliart's all-wheel-drive system. Because of the similarities, ride and handling are more in line with the GTS than either of the Evolution models. The suspension is firm, but forgiving enough to be comfortable on long trips.

The Ralliart's standard 10-spoke, 18-inch alloy wheels are also borrowed from the GTS. Brakes with larger-diameter pistons come from the Outlander V-6 SUV, which is itself built on the Lancer platform.

Nevertheless, the Ralliart behaves more like a GTS than an Evolution over rough pavement, making it a livable daily driver. The steering isn't super-sensitive like the Evo's, which some people may prefer. The suspension is biased toward street (not track) use, while the smooth-shifting dual-clutch transmission is less aggressive with its gearchanges. Downshifts are rev-matched so the car won't lurch forward. As a side benefit, onlookers will think you are driving a car with a manual, and that you know what you're doing.

Okay, how much is all of this practicality and compromise going to cost me? Mitsubishi has given the Ralliart a base price of $26,490 but hasn't yet announced the destination charge - currently, it's $675 for all Lancers, but could go up for the 2009 model year. That's slightly more than the Subaru Impreza WRX, which starts at $24,995 for a sedan. Mitsubishi is also considering importing the new Lancer Sportback so that it can go head-to-head with Subaru's five-door hatch. So, unless you plan to visit the track regularly or can't live without that third pedal, the Ralliart looks like a good Evo alternative that won't dig as big a hole in your bank account.

2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart

Base Price: $26,490 (excluding destination charge)
On Sale: September 2008

Engine: 2.0-liter DOHC 16-valve I-4
Horsepower: 237 hp @ 6000 rpm
Torque: 253 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automated manual
Drive: All-wheel

L x W x H: 180.0 x 69.4 x 58.7 in
Legroom F/R: 42.2/36.1 in
Headroom F/R: 39.6/36.9 in
Cargo capacity: 10.0 cu ft (9.1 cu ft with optional subwoofer)
Curb Weight: 3462 lb
EPA Rating (city/highway): 17/25 mpg

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