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 Tue, Mar 9, 2010
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By Doug Stokes This is a simply remarkable automobile. Either they’re lying about the horsepower figures or lying about the weight (understating the first and overstating the second). The reason for my accusation is the kind of sparkling street performance this two-liter, 237-horsepower, four-door dishes out with even the most subtle urging. Maybe its just the way that this Mitsubishi Lancer Sportsback’s superb 6-speed twin-clutch transmission gets every one of those 237 turbo-charged ponies geared directly to the road that made this one such a spiffy drive. And here’s another impression for you: They gave this one a cool name and then followed up with a look to match. The Sportback sits sweetly over its gummy 215/45/18 Yokohama Advans, in a ready-to-rock stance that’s hard to mistake. Yeah it’s a four-door, but that, as we now know, no longer means unsporty or strictly utilitarian.
Of course, almost every company with a performance model or two on their sales list these days seems to be paying some sort of styling homage to Audi, with a deep drop front grille configuration. And this machine is sure one of ’em. There’s a BIG, quite visible air-to-air intercooler in the lower section that’s a BIG part of the reason that this two-liter engine seems to be just getting started at 230+ horsepower. Mitsubishi has also picked some very bright, very attractive colors to sheathe this model in. And the Ralliart add-ons – like the hard-to-miss rear wing/spoiler, dual exhausts, and the 18-inch alloy wheels – all seemed right at home. This is not the 400-horsepower Evo, but it isn’t $40K either. This one makes far more sense on a risk-reward basis (and insurance rates too). On the tech side, this one’s got some real “rallye” (ralli?) stuff onboard, like full-time all wheel drive, ABS, big four-wheel disc brakes, a sport-tuned suspension (more on that in a minute), and a hard-to-miss (de rigueur) front strut tower bar. I am here to report officially that this chassis is S-T-I-F-F. That fact, the sport-tuned suspension, and those 215/45, make this one’s ride a very sporty affair accompanied by rhythmic bongo-drum ‘ting!’ sound from every expansion joint on some of the concrete freeways hereabouts.
But that’s a small price to pay to be driving with this Lancer’s six-speed Twin-Clutch Sportronic Shift Transmission (TC-SST for the initial-lovers out there) under your floorboards. I’ve driven other twin-clutched machines before, but never before one with so taut a feel nor so blasted accurate. I tried the paddle-shifters exactly once in the five days that I had this machine and simply drove in Drive NORMAL when I was just heading out to the Fresh and Easy and in Drive SPORT when I wanted to pretend that I was as fast as I told people that I once was. I’ll happily wager that this trans can shift better up and down (that’s faster, cleaner, with no drama, every time the right time) far better than fully 98 percent of the populace. Sensing whether you’re hightailing along or just hauling groceries, the transmission shift gears accordingly, flatten the accelerator and you’ll speed through the gears, each one right to the red-line before, oh!, we’re already in the next gear. No bump, no grind, no hesitation, no lope, one gear morphing into the next. As that big curly-haired guy on that British TV show says, “Brilliant!” There’s good room for four FSAs (full-size adults) and great luggage space. This car even has a fast key (I call them proximity keys - keep it in your pocket and you can get in, start the car etc.) and covered front cup holders. Our test model had a sticker that bottomed out at $28,384 and we were having far too much fun to check fuel mileage. Uncle Sugar says that we’d averaged 17 in the city and 25 out on the highway. I think that’s about right. By the way turbo ticklers: that’s the high-test stuff, this guy wants 89 at least and 91 if you’re going to drive like a fool…, er, like me.
About the only rap on Mitsubishis these day is a paucity of nearby dealerships. With a three-year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, five-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty, and a seven-year/100,000 mile anti-corrosion warranty, that might not be as big a question mark as some think. SUMMARY JUDGMENT A refreshing kick in the pants, with a transmission to BUY (the whole car) for. For more information about Mitsubishi products, go to mitsubishicars.com For LA CAR’s review of the Lancer Ralliart sedan, go to lacar.com
SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart Price: $27,590 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: 180.4 inches Width: 69.4 inches Height: 59.7 inches Curb Weight: 3572 pounds Performance 0-60 mph: 6.6 seconds