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THE STATE OF THE RALLIART

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Jul 25, 2004

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

© All photos by Harvey Schwartz

LOTS OF SHOW AND GO FOR THE MONEY By HARVEY SCHWARTZ

This year, Mitsubishi gives 'rally car' enthusiasts a new Lancer model called 'Ralliart', a less expensive, and a less hyper high performing vehicle than the Lancer Evolution (EVO) VIII. This new Ralliart offers a higher performance-to-price ratio. What you lose, versus the EVO, is the 271 horsepower inter-cooled and turbo-charged engine and all-wheel drive. Don't fret about it, because the Ralliart can stand on its own and give you plenty of fun, excitement, and performance - for a price of just $17,997.00.

Ralliart is the high-performance and motorsports arm of Mitsubishi Motors, and the addition of the Lancer Ralliart model is not just cosmetic. The new Ralliart features it's own unique exterior styling, engine, suspension and interior.

The Ralliart's exterior appearance is enhanced with its own unique rear spoiler, unique fog lamps, and front and side airdams. Power comes from a new 2.4-liter MIVEC, single overhead cam, 16-valve, four-cylinder engine, with a cast-iron block and aluminum heads. This high-output engine features Mitsubishi's Innovative Valve timing and lift Electronic Control (MIVEC). The MIVEC system features separate cam profiles for high and low engine speed modes, which translates to higher maximum power and increased usable torque in the widest variety of driving conditions. This new engine develops 162 horsepower at 5,750 rpm and 162 pound feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. Part of the additional power is the result of a freer-flowing exhaust system, which features a larger-diameter stainless steel exhaust pipe and large-volume catalytic converter and stainless steel muffler. These changes help to decrease backpressure on the engine and increase performance.

Power is transferred to the front wheels via a five-speed manual transmission and the same short-throw, sport-shifter assembly taken from the Lancer EVO VIII.

Unwanted wheelspin is kept under control by traction control, which can also be shut off with a dash-mounted button.

The Ralliart features a sport-tuned fully independent suspension - much stiffer and precise than the base Lancer sedan. Front shock damping is increased 150 percent and rear shock damping is increased 85 percent to improve body roll rate and limit weight transfer. The front coil spring rate is increased 20 percent to offset the increased engine weight, and the front anti-sway bar is increased 17 percent - which also helps to reduce body roll. Pillow ball bushings are added to both upper and lower control arms of the rear suspension to ensure the most accurate suspension geometry. As a structural reinforcement, diagonal braces are added from the outer front strut towers to the cowl at the A-pillars. A red-painted tubular three-point front strut-tower brace not only looks good spanning the engine bay, it also helps reinforce body rigidity. The result is a sportier, more rigid chassis that's capable of negotiating apexes more easily at higher speeds.

By increasing the diameter of the steering rack, the Ralliart features steering stiffness for a sportier and more controlled feel. The power-assisted rack & pinion system is further modified with the removal of the steering shimmy damper, which helps eliminate flex and transfers more road feedback to the steering wheel, giving a better feel. Needing only 2.86 turns lock-to-lock, the quick response and reassuring feel of this unique system provide constant input about the road surface and the car's directional dynamics.

While additional horsepower helps to add speed, better braking helps to reduce it. Larger, four-wheel, vented, disc brakes - 10.9-inch front and 10.3-inch rear (plus ABS) - provide confident stopping power. The brake calipers' piston diameter is increased from 2.12 inches to 2.36 inches. This increase in piston area, along with an increase in brake booster capacity, helps to keep pedal effort low and improve the overall braking feel. Further enhancing brake balance is Electronic Brake Force Distribution, which comes standard.

The Ralliart rides on big 205/50R16 high-performance radial tires that wrap around sporty 16X7-inch aluminum alloy wheels.

This is a terrific rally inspired sport sedan, not over-boasting of what's hidden under the skin.

The interior of the Ralliart is also rally-sport inspired with front sport bucket seats that are sourced directly from the Japanese-market Lancer Evolution GT-A. Each seat is very well-bolstered on the sides to keep you snugly in place. The tilting, leather-wrapped steering wheel feels great in your hands. The leather-wrapped, baseball-topped shifter stick is perfectly placed and fun to use. The EVO VIII-styled instrument cluster is easy to see and comes with a big 130-mph speedometer and an 8,000 rpm tachometer, with smaller fuel and engine coolant temperature gauges. Bright LED lights warn you of system or safety failure. All buttons, dials and switches are within easy reach.

The Lancer's 102.4-inch wheelbase helps create rear legroom that's uncommonly spacious for a compact sedan. A pull-down center armrest features dual cupholders. The rear seats are split 60/40, and can be folded down to increase the cargo carrying capacity of the new Lancer Ralliart. Other standard features include AM-FM stereo CD with six speakers, air conditioning, power windows/door locks/sideview mirrors, remote keyless entry, cruise control, two-speed variable intermittent wipers, dual-visor vanity mirrors, eight-way adjustable driver seat, with height adjustment, center console with armrest storage, grab handles above each door, rear window defroster, Raillart logo driver floor mat, and theater-dimming map lamps.

Occupant safety is reinforced with Mitsubishi's RISE, which stands for Refined Impact Safety Evolution-Lancer's body structure helps absorb frontal, offset frontal, side-impact and rear collision energy. Using the latest advances in computer-aided design, the Lancer includes features such as energy-absorbing front and rear crumple zones, a reinforced passenger safety cage, sophisticated side structures and a fortified chassis to enhance protection for passengers. Additional safety features include three-pointed safety belts for all occupants, (height-adjustable up front), front seatbelt pre-tensioners and force limiters, front passenger airbags, and optional front side airbags. Front head restraints have also been angled closer to the head, and the padded interior roof pillars have crushable ribs that help provide additional head protection in the event of a crash.

For just under $18,000.00, the new Ralliart edition to the Mitsubishi Lancer family of sport sedans is high-performance on a budget. The only option available is the 'sun & sound' package which includes a power sunroof and a 315-watt Mitsubishi/Infinity AM-FM-CD player with an eight-inch subwoofer mounted in the trunk in it's own enclosure.

© All text and photos by Harvey Schwartz

For more information on Mitsubishi products, go to www.mitsubishimotors.com. More photos from Harvey Schwartz can be found at www.autofotos.com

SPECIFICATIONS

Name of Vehicle: Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart

Price: $17,997.00

Engine type: 2.4liter, SOHC, 16-valve, MIVEC 4-cylinder engine, cast-iron block/aluminum heads

Horsepower: 162 at 5,750rpm

Torque: 162lb.ft. of torque at 4,000rpm

Drive configuration: Front engine/front-wheel-drive

Transmission type: 5-speed manual

Front suspension: Independent MacPherson struts, 16mm stabilizer bar

Rear suspension: Independent multi-link with coil springs and 13mm stabilizer bar

Wheels/tires: P205/50R16in. high-performing radial tires

16X7in. aluminum alloy wheels

Brakes: Front: 10.9in. vented rotors, dual piston calipers

Rear: 10.3in. vented rotors, single piston calipers

ABS and Electronic Brake Force Distribution

Overall length: 180.5in.

Overall width: 66.8in.

Overall height: 53.7in.

Curb weight: 2,843lbs.

EPA mileage statistics: 23/mpg city/29mpg highway

0-60mph: 6.9sec.

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