2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart Road Test Review

Arv Voss - CAP staff
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Mitsubishi's ninth generation Lancer was introduced for the 2008 model year as an all-new compact sport sedan, drawing its inspiration and design cues from the Japanese manufacturer's attention grabbing Concept-X show car that was first shown in 2005.  The shark-nosed front end resembled a jet fighter with its air intakes, distinctive wedge-like profile and tight, angular edges.  The cabin was sleekly curved, following the sharply sloped hood and angular nose.  And while some viewed the abbreviated rear section as too short, the new 2010 Lancer Sportback Ralliart has solved that problem, not only adding a sportier look, but greater functionality as well in the form of an extended hatchback. 

The Sportback Ralliart gets the same version of the Lancer Ralliart turbocharged and intercooled 2.0-litre DOHC MIVEC engine that is derived from the Lancer Evolution, and is teamed with a Twin Clutch-Sportronic Shift Transmission (TC-SST), the same transmission as found in the much-coveted Evo MR. 

Starting with a Lancer Evolution long block assembly, the turbocharger, intercooler and valve timing are modified for impressive street-oriented performance in the Ralliart.  The Lancer Sportback Ralliart engine produces 237hp at 6,000 rpm and 253 pound-feet of torque at 3,000 rpm.  The driver can manually shift using the console shifter or the steering column-mounted magnesium-alloy paddle shifters, or can select fully automatic operation.  The Lancer Sportback Ralliart's brilliant six-speed Twin-Clutch Sportronic Shift automated manual transmission (TC-SST), standard, features Normal and Sport shifting modes. 

The foundation for the Lancer's agile handling is the performance-engineered global platform that also forms the basis for the Lancer Evolution chassis and underpins the Mitsubishi Outlander crossover. 

The Lancer Sportback Ralliart's All-Wheel Control (AWC) system is based on a competition-derived, computer-controlled Active Center Differential (ACD) unit that distributes drive torque between the front and rear wheels in response to driving conditions.  The driver can set system response parameters using a "Tarmac, Gravel, Snow" selector.  A helical limited-slip front differential and a mechanical limited-slip rear differential help optimize side-to-side torque distribution. 

Ralliart-tuned suspension and 18-inch alloy wheels with 215/45 R18 Yokohama summer tires complement the high traction afforded by the full-time active all-wheel drive.  Standard active stability control with traction control contributes to safe handling, too. 

Mitsubishi's Canadian division offers one trim level for the Lancer Sportback, the sport-tuned GTS.  The top-line Sportback Ralliart stands apart as a separate model, as does the Evolution X, and for good reason.  The Sportback Ralliart's design is more aggressive than the GTS, offering 10-spoke, 18-inch alloy wheels; front and side air dams; fog lamps; an integrated sunshade/rear spoiler and chrome dual exhaust tips.  Enhancements over 2009 models include upgraded interior touches, and a colour display in the instrument panel. 

Acceleration in my test car was certainly more than adequate in all driving scenarios.  The handling displayed a sporty feel, on par with many competitors. The ride quality leaned to the firm side of the equation. 

Safety offerings are comprehensive, featuring Mitsubishi's Reinforced Impact Safety Evolution (RISE) unibody design.  Also included as part of the safety package are dual front airbags with occupant sensors, front side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags, and a driver's knee airbag. 

The Sportback Ralliart's interior follows the same clean, crisp, sporty theme as the exterior, with a roomy feel, user-friendly gauges and switchgear, and cool metal pedals.  Precision and function are strongly evidenced.  The glove box is large, illuminated and damped to avoid bumped knees.  The centre console adds a rear storage box with an armrest. 

While all Lancer models follow a value packaging philosophy, each trim level adds content, allowing the consumer to select the model that best suits their needs and budget constraints. 

The exterior of my test model was finished in Octane Blue Pearl (a $160 upgrade, as is Tarmac Black Pearl), while the interior was black.  The base MSRP was set at $33,698.  The optional $5,300 Premium Package, which requires the inclusion of Recaro sport front bucket seats, includes the HDD navigation systems, a 710-Watt Rockford-Fosgate premium audio system with Punch control and nine speakers including subwoofer, 6-CD/MP3 in-dash changer, Sirius Satellite Radio with 3-month service subscription, video inputs, automatic rain sensing wipers, a powered glass sunroof, FAST-Key proximity sensing keyless entry and ignition, soundproof insulator windshield glass, and automatic xenon HID headlamps elevated the final tally to $40,758 -- not a paltry sum, but not bad either, considering the total equipment and feature level. 

The Rockford-Fosgate audio system is set up a little differently and not initially intuitive.  Spend a little time with it though, and it becomes more user-friendly.  The sound quality is incredible though, once you master the operation. 

Bottom-line, the Lancer Sportback Ralliart is an attractive, sporty vehicle with a host of desirable features along with plenty of options to satisfy personal needs and requirements.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Hatchback, Mitsubishi, 2010, Lancer Sportback Ralliart, $30,000 - $39,999,

Organizations: Mitsubishi

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