Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart / Sportback Ralliart

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Picture: Mitsubishi

Hot hatches and performance compacts have been popping up in recent years. That’s a bit surprising given that most buyers don’t seem to mind driving something fun. There’s a new GTI/Golf Rand Hyundai will sell you a car with 275 horsepower and one of the best stock exhausts ever. three-door hatchback, a compact four-door or a compact crossover. Even Toyota got in on the game, giving us the 300-hp Corolla GR, something we didn’t think the United States would ever get. Mitsubishi, a company so far removed from all things fun that it started a story JDM nameplate on a crossover, used to give us great performance with his Lancer Evolution. And at one point, if you couldn’t get an Evo, they offered an Evo lite in the form of the Lancer Ralliart.

Welcome to Forgotten Cars where we get into a brief history and background on some models you may not remember. Join us for a car trip down memory lane.

Yes, Mitsubishi made some cool stuff. From the Galant VR-4s to the 3000GTs, the company had performance credentials, mostly thanks to its WRC (World Rally Championship) experience. Enter Ralliart, the performance and racing arm of Mitsubishi founded in 1984. Ralliart fielded the Lancer and Lancer Evolutions from 1993 to 2007. This racing know-how gave the world the Lancer Evolution and, to a lesser measure, the Lancer Ralliart.

Image for article titled Forgotten Cars: Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart/Sportback Ralliart

Picture: Mitsubishi

The Lancer Ralliart was based on the ninth generation Lancer which debuted in 2007. It rode on the GS platform jointly developed by Mitsubishi and Chrysler. In addition to the Lancer, Mitsubishi used the platform for the Outlander and still uses it today on the ill-fated Eclipse Cross. (At Daimler Chrysler, everything you can think of was terrible at the time on that platform, from the Dodge Caliber to the Jeep Compass.)

Image for article titled Forgotten Cars: Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart/Sportback Ralliart

Picture: Mitsubishi

The Lancer Ralliart debuted in 2009, which was an unfortunate time for an automaker to launch a sporty product. The global economy was on the brink of collapse due to the Great Recession, ahe car manufacturers were kill models left and the right to save money. But Mitsubishi continued with the Lancer Ralliart. While it was available in a sedan, you didn’t want that one. The one you wanted was the Ralliart Sportback.

Image for article titled Forgotten Cars: Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart/Sportback Ralliart

Picture: Mitsubishi

What made the Ralliart so special? It really was an Evo lite. By choosing the Ralliart, you get a detuned version of the 4B11 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 used in the Evo. At Ralliart, it developed 237 horsepower and 253 lb-ft of torque; an AWD drive system that was a simplified version of the setup used in the Evolution X. Even the transmission was removed from the Evo. While more basic Corolla- and civic-the Fighting Lancers got the option of a five-speed manual or a terrible CVT (that Mitsubishi had the nerve to give paddle shifters on the GTS versions), the Lancer Ralliart received the same TC-SST six-speed dual-clutch transmission as the Evo X. The only difference between the two cars was that the Ralliart received two transmission modes (normal, sport) to all three of the Evo (normal, sport, s-sport).

Image for article titled Forgotten Cars: Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart/Sportback Ralliart

Picture: Mitsubishi

All these Evo-sourced goodies are cool, but how did they work? Not bad, Actually. Although not light (it weighed nearly 3,600 pounds in Sportback Ralliart trim), it was actually faster than a WRX. depending, depending on what you Lily60 mph came in 5.4 or 5.7 seconds. And the engine had a sweet spot, like ours Andrew Stoy wrote back in ’08:

The 235bhp MIVEC 2.0 is a base Lancer below around 2,800rpm, after which torque kicks in; it’s not intrusive, nor is the dreaded turbo “on/off” switch, but the car does change character subtly. Mitsu lit says 253 ft-lb is available from 2,500 to 4,750 rpm — and that’s about the only place it’s available. Luckily, the Twin-Clutch SST will keep you playing happily in that sweet spot all day long.

Mitsubishi even offered you Recaros!

Mitsubishi even offered you Recaros!
Picture: Mitsubishi

None of this broke the bank, Is. The Lancer Ralliart’s price ranged from just $28,000 to just over $31,000 for a loaded Sportback Ralliart. Unfortunately, the Lancer Ralliart didn’t last long. Mitsubishi and Ralliart have not escaped the recession. Mitsubishi announcement that Ralliart was ending operations in early 2010 and that the Lancer Sportback was killed off in 2014. Somehow the Lancer made it until 2017. And not many have been made. Production numbers are hard to come by, but I only found two for sale nationwide. Although Mitsubishi is a shadow of what it once was in the performance department, we can at least look back on models like the Lancer Ralliart to see that once upon a time the company actually tried.

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