Back in March 2010, Mitsubishi executives stepped in front of the media and announced that the global recession which hurt so bad American giants General Motors and Chrysler has claimed another victim. This time, it was Ralliart, Mitsu's very own performance division and tuning arm. Though not so active under Mitsubishi's ownership when it comes to higher-performance models, Ralliart managed to set itself apart, mostly thanks to its impressive motorsport history that includes major achievements, such as the WRC driver's title in the 1997 season with Tommi Makinen behind the wheel.
Getting back to Ralliart's dramatic end, the Japanese guys talked about it with a tiny smile on their face. We knew something was up and, after a while, Mitsubishi finally confirmed our prediction skills: Ralliart received a chance to live on as an in-house division that would continue to be used for high-performance flavors of Mitsubishi's models.
So, what we have here is the so-called Lancer Sportback Ralliart
model, the one that debuted in 2008 at the Paris Motor Show alongside the standard version. We won't go too deep into its history and we'll concentrate on the reasons why Mitsubishi would want to introduce a model that 90 percent similar to its sedan sibling.
First of all, when the Diamond Star rolled out the Lancer Ralliart, Mitsubishi was pretty sure that it finally managed to satisfy all Evo lovers who'd buy one but didn't have the money for a monthly payment. The car was considered a toned down Evolution that would offer enough power but at a more affordable price.
But Mitsubishi missed one thing: even with the launch of the Lancer Ralliart sedan, Subaru WRX was left all alone to challenge the other hot hatches on the market, including Mazda3 MPS
and, if you really want, Golf GTI
. It was the moment when the Lancer Sportback Ralliart idea started to take shape.
The Sportback is powered by the exact same engine as the sedan and features the same interior equipment, obviously with a changed rear side. Usually, such a transition, from a sedan to a sportback architecture, translates into more interior space, more luggage volume so, in two words, increased practicality.
Is Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart up to the task of tackling WRX and Mazdaspeed3? Read on to find out our impressions on the 30,000+ Euros model.Continue reading