2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart Review By John Heilig


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2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart

THE AUTO PAGE
By JOHN HEILIG

SPECIFICATIONS: 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart

Model: 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart
Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged DOHC I4
Horsepower/Torque: 237 hp @ 6,000 rpm/253 lb.-ft. @ 3,000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic with paddle shifters
Wheelbase: 103.7 in.
Length/Width/Height: 180.4 x 69.4 x 59.3 in.
Tires: P215/45R18
Cargo volume: 13.8 Cubic Feet
Fuel economy: 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway/23.5 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 14.5 Gallons
Curb weight: 3572
Sticker: $31,755 (includes $760 destination and handling charge, $3,100 Ralliart package)

Top 5 Reasons To Buy This Car

1. Fun to drive
2. Relatively economical on long trips
3. Excellent power
4. Excellent handling
5. Four-door sports car

The Bottom Line: Although the Ralliart is essentially a detuned version of the more potent Lancer Evolution, it still packs a wallop. There's no question that this package is competition-driven, although it's also a decent street car.

Mitsubishi has a naming problem. the Lancer line is the most attractive both to small car buyers and to boy racers. The trouble with the Lancer line is that there are so many different models. It's almost as if Mitsubishi is trying to be a General Motors-type organization with Lancer as one of the brands.

This week's tester is the - hold your breath - Lancer Sportback Ralliart. It is a detuned version of the more potent Lancer Evolution, although you won't get that impression driving the car. The Ralliart has its own personality, and although it isn't as top-of-the-line as the Evo, it is still a ball to drive.

One of the first things you notice, even before the 237 hp turbocharged inline four engine, is the aggressive transmission. We had a 6-speed automatic in our tester, but you can definitely feel the shifts, both up and down. It has the feel of a manual transmission without the work.

There are paddles behind the steering wheel if you really want to drive it like a manual, but the automatic is so aggressively geared that you really don't have to go there. The paddles stay fixed when you turn the wheel, which can be a small problem if you're driving on a winding road and you also want to shift.

And yes, the engine is noisy, just like a hot engine should be. However, it's good noise, the kind that indicates real power under the hood.

There's some turbo steer on hard acceleration, but it isn't like the "old days" when the turbo steer would almost take the steering wheel out of your hands. In the case of the Ralliart, it's more of a sensation.

The suspension is very firm, but that leads to excellent handling. The firmness is almost harsh, but I'll bet the demographic who will be attracted to the Ralliart won't complain.

Visibility is very good all around.

The instrument panel is clear, with a tachometer, information panel and speedometer, from left to right. The information panel shows the gear you're in, even when you' rein automatic. It also had odometers, fuel level, water temperature, road surface and outside temperature. The road surface indicator may seem redundant, but it's always nice in a car like this to know, just in case you try to be over-aggressive on the wrong road.

The Ralliart also has excellent brakes, which are a requirement in a car like this.

The front seats offer very good side support, which is desirable in a sporty sedan. Also, thanks to Weight Watchers, I can now fit in seats that offer good side support (yay me).

The rear seats have decent legroom. The rear seat backs also fold 60/40 to increase the already-generous cargo area. Peeking in the cargo area you'll note the gynormous 10-inch subwoofers that are part of the 710-watt Rockford-Fosgate Premium Sound system. Just imagine how annoying a teenager can be with a sound system like this to blast away.

There's no question that the Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart is a ball to drive. It's a bigger ball to drive aggressively, but don't let the local constabulary know about it. At $31,755 it's high for a compact car, but to many it will be worth it.

2011 The Auto Page

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