The Ralliart is a car that cuts about 25 percent from the Evo's price while only losing about 5 percent of the fun. There's still plenty of power from the boosted four-cylinder and the six-speed dual-clutch transmission is a pro at rev-matching downshifts. With a light dusting of snow on the ground, the Sportback Ralliart happily slides its rear around corners at the direction of your right foot, but the all-wheel drive is always ready to pull things back into line.
The transmission's sport mode is dang good, aggressively downshifting on braking and holding onto gears so that power is always on tap. Normal mode is also quite assertive to the point that it seems like overkill. In downtown Ann Arbor, I was cruising for blocks at a time with barely any throttle input while the transmission held second gear at 2700 rpm. It seems like a more conservative calibration could pick up an extra mile per gallon or two in city fuel economy. Of course the best way to swap gears is using the big shift paddles that are properly mounted to the steering column.
The Sportback styling is jarring in profile and would probably drive me to purchase the Ralliart sedan. The upper hatch is too aggressively sloped and the rear quarter below the beltline looks enormous. The short roofline also looks like it could have been a cost saving effort so that Mitsubishi didn't have to put in another side window behind the rear door. That said, the hatch does provide a substantial increase in usable room compared to the sedan.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor