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SWAGGER

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, Mar 22, 2009

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

SWAGGER This car has it in spades. Turned heads, pointing fingers and the occasional 'thumbs up' - it's just another day in the Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart. This compact sport sedan gets more than its share of approving nods. More so, in fact, than some far costlier three-pointed starts or spinning blue propellers. Mostly, it's from members of the younger generation. It might be because it looks like the legendary Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X - a familiar shape for automotive video game aficionados. Yes, the gamers know this shape. It's a shape of one of the car stars of Grand Theft Auto, Midnight Club, and just about any other popular video game involving street racers.

But the Ralliart is not a pretender. It takes the handsome Lancer 4-door unibody sedan and four-wheel independent suspension, and mates a tweaked and tuned chassis to a turbocharged engine and all-wheel-drive. More specifically, the Ralliart is powered by the new 4B11 2.0-liter DOHC MIVEC intercooled and turbocharged engine (also used in the Lancer Evolution) that cranks out 237 horsepower. Delivering the power to the four wheels is Mitsubishi's excellent Twin Clutch-SST automatic transmission with its sequential manual shifting option. This gearbox helps enhance the sporty nature of the vehicle by allowing the driver to execute lightning-quick, paddle-actuated shifts. The TC-SST transmission also operates in fully automatic modes for Normal (better for gas mileage) and Sport (more fun) driving conditions. The Lancer Ralliart's all-wheel driveline features Mitsubishi's Active Center Differential (ACD). The ACD unit employs an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch center differential, vectoring drive torque to the front and rear according to different driving conditions to realize the best balance between steering response and traction characteristics on tarmac, gravel, or snow surfaces. Helping to bring the power to the pavement are a front helical limited slip differential and a rear differential mechanical limited slip differential.

Mitsubishi has taken some heat in the past for mismatching textures in the interior department. The Lancer Ralliart interior represents a great leap forward. There's a lot of plastic for sure, but plastic keeps the car light, and it all blends together quite nicely here. The Ralliart has some additional touches, such as a FAST key, Bluetooth® hands-free telephone interface, the same Twin Clutch-SST shifter used on Lancer Evolution, and easily accessible steering column-mounted paddle shifters. Still, it's the exterior design that attracts the compliments, and the Lancer Ralliart exterior is distinguished by its more aggressively styled front bumper design, rear bumper cover, dual outlet muffler and a lightweight aluminum, ducted hood that delivers cooling air to the turbocharger. Our car is fitted with the optional Recaro Sport package, which includes Recaro seats up front, high-intensity discharge headlights, a 650-watt Rockford Fosgate nine-speaker audio system with trunk-mounted subwoofer, and Sirius satellite radio. You can also opt for a power sunroof and a 30-gigabyte hard drive navigation system with digital music server.

It all adds up to one very fun ride. Some performance cars need to be taken to the limit before they act sporty. Not so with the Ralliart. The lively turbo four, together with the ultra-quick paddle shifters, tuned suspension, all-wheel drive and compact dimensions of the car are evident at any speeds. The Ralliart is even fun in high-density, stop-and-go traffic. This car makes changing lanes and circling an onramp fun. You once had to buy a gas guzzling V8 to get your mojo working this hard. The Lancer Ralliart does it with half the cylinders (albeit turbocharged), and gets an EPA rating of 17 mpg in the city and 25 on the highway. Alas, we didn't see 25 too much - the temptation to put the pedal to the metal is just too great in this car. Still, it's good to know that it can if you can resist the temptation. Some people will have a hard time justifying a $26,490 car based on a Lancer. But they are the same ones that scratch their heads at the (also Lancer-based but considerably more expensive) Mitsubishi Evolution and Nissan GTR (of which the Ralliart shares some aesthetic similarities with). This car has a bit too much swagger for them. Provocative cars do provoke, and the Ralliart is provocative. They also tend to be pricey, and from that standpoint, the Lancer Ralliart is a provocative bargain. - Roy Nakano

SUMMARY JUDGMENT Move over, WRX. There's a new mid-$20,000 four-door, compact pocket rocket in town, and it's a certified magnet. For more information about Mitsubishi products, go to www.mitsubishicars.com 

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart Price: $26,490 (base) $29,390 (as tested, with premium paint and Recaro Sport package) EPA gas mileage rating: 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway Engine: 4B11 2.0-liter DOHC MIVEC intercooled and turbocharged in-line four Horsepower: 237 at 6,000 rpm Torque: 253 pound-feet at 3,000 rpm Transmission: Twin Clutch-SST automatic transmission with sequential manual shifting and fully automatic modes (Normal, Sport) Drive System: Full-time all-wheel driveline, featuring Active Center Differential (ACD) employing an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch center differential, vectoring drive torque to the front and rear according to different driving conditions for optimal balance between steering response and traction characteristics on tarmac, gravel, or snow surfaces; front helical limited slip differential and a rear differential mechanical limited slip differential Suspension: Four-wheel, fully independent McPherson struts (front); multi-link (rear) sport-tuned suspension with front and rear stabilizer bars, active stability control (ACL) and traction control (TCL) Steering: Power-assisted rack and pinion Brakes: Four wheel power-assisted discs, with Mitsubishi's Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) Dimensions Length: 180 inches Width: 69.4 inches Height: 58.7 inches Curb Weight: 3462 pounds Performance 0-60 mph: 6.6 seconds

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