Text: Vince Pornelos / Photos: Dux Carvajal | posted December 15, 2010 13:34
When we think high performance and tuner cars, images of rides with Vin Diesel behind the wheel come to mind; after all, we are in the post-Fast and the Furious generation. With the new Lancer Ralliart, however, Mitsubishi tells us that you don't have to have all those gaudy decals and wild body kits to blow most cars on the street away.
The Ralliart is the newest version of the venerable Lancer EX lineup, slotting just in between the Evolution X and the Lancer EX GT-A. Before Evo purists cast stones at the Ralliart for what is perceived to be a watered down version of the all-conquering, rally-bred street fighter, allow me to point out that the Ralliart isn't a diluted Evo, instead, it's a daily-driveable Evo.
Unlike the Evolution X with its tall wing, aggressive widebody and aero kit, it's not that easy to spot the fact that this is a high performance variant of the Lancer apart from the lightweight, vented aluminum hood and the larger, twin tip muffler. There are some little Ralliart accessories if you look a little closer, like the Ralliart logos on the grille and trunk, the Ralliart lug nuts and centercaps for the wheels.
Inside, it's the same story, as the Lancer Ralliart just has a few subtle touches on the trimmings. The giveaway that this is a high performance car is the appearance of the the Evo X's steering wheel and the baseball-stitched Twin Clutch SST shifter on the center console, but more on that later.
Beneath the lightweight bonnet is the same engine as the entire Lancer range: the 4B11. For more power and performance, Mitsubishi outfitted the engine with a single scroll turbo and an intercooler, giving it a total output of 240 horsepower. It's very quick, even though the turbo is a single scroll unit, it does spool up quite quickly, lending the Ralliart some very good reflexes.
Like the Evo, the Ralliart does change the way you drive. You begin to taunt other fast cars, begging them to think that you're just driving an ordinary front wheel drive, 155hp Lancer EX, only to show them how a 240hp, 4WD Lancer Ralliart will blow them away. Insert evil smile here.
Impressive performance from the engine indeed, but the engine is really only part of the greatness, as the Rallart does get one most advanced transmissions available with the Twin Clutch SST system. A double clutch automatic, the TC-SST system allows for superfast shifts between gears by having separate mechanisms for odd- and even-numbered gears. Say, when 3rd gear is engaged on one clutch, both 2nd and 4th gears are spooling up to be engaged in the other. The system, which was also installed in the Evo X MR, has several modes to choose from, though I do miss the S-Sport setting and the Launch Control feature in the Ralliart's big brother.
Having the superfast, smooth shifts of the TC-SST system, as well as the grippy nature of four wheel drive, the Ralliart gives the driver supreme confidence to take on one corner after the other. The suspension is an uprated version of the Lancer GTA's, and even has improved brakes. Compared to rear-wheel drive sportscars like the Hyundai Genesis Coupe, the Ralliart's on-the-limit turn-in is slower, but once you hit that apex, just punch the throttle and watch the greatness of the engine and drivetrain work for you.
The Ralliart does an excellent job at bridging the gap between the Evo and the Lancer GT-A by providing similar performance when you demand it, as well as the calm and comfort when you need it. However, the Ralliart does come at a price. At PhP 2.3M, it's quite an expensive car, given that its main rival, the Subaru Impreza WRX, costs 600 grand less.
Price notwithstanding, the best thing about the Ralliart is how it's not as serious as the Evo. Sure, for any gearhead, it is easy to get carried away by the performance and the character of the Evo. When all is said and done, however, the Evo X is a hard car to live with on a daily basis. Things like the hard suspension and non-existent fuel economy are things you don't want on the drive to and from work. By being less serious, the Ralliart has become more fun than its more powerful big brother.