The Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart addresses most of my reservations about the Evo. You get a lot more cargo room, much better real world fuel economy, and the overall car is slightly less frenetic, so you can drive like a normal person and not worry about adding a dozen points to your license.
I suppose the looks of this hatchback configuration are a bit funky, but the wing doesn't kill your visibility and the car still sort of looks like a regular sedan, which is a potential advantage for those who are normally opposed to hatchbacks. I'm happy the shark nose front and aggressive hood are present because they help the Ralliart stand out from the crowd.
The Recaro sport package is a pretty expensive choice, but the seats are about perfect for me (though I know shorter drivers can't stand the limited adjustability) and I would certainly want HIDs on my car. I like the stereo that comes with the package much, much more than the touch-screen navigation unit we had in our Four Seasons Evo because it's so much easier to change the radio station with an actual button on the dashboard than a touchscreen.
As-equipped, our test car strikes a good balance between comfort, performance, and price. $31,000 is still a lot for a car with the compromises a Ralliart makes, but enthusiasts will be able to look past the somewhat cheap interior and economy-car roots and appreciate the AWD system, turbo-four power, and decent utility the Sportback offers.
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor