Upgradeable cabin tech
Taking a moment to look at the cabin tech, this Lancer Ralliart is devoid of any options, but that doesn't mean a complete lack of gadgets. Mitsubishi makes a Bluetooth phone system standard in the car. It uses voice command for its interface and is fairly basic, lacking any advanced phonebook features, but it works. The standard stereo plays MP3 CDs in its single-slot player, and that's about the extent of the digital music options. For the auxiliary input, Mitsubishi includes stereo RCA jacks instead of the more typical 1/8 inch audio jack, an interesting choice for better fidelity. But most people will plug an MP3 player into it with a 1/8 inch audio out, so there isn't much gained.
The stock audio system is a simple six-speaker setup, with tweeters on the A-pillars and woofers on all the doors. The audio quality is fairly average, with usual muddiness, but the stereo offers a bit of custom control to adjust the audio with its sound field control. You can choose Stage, Hall, or Live, each successively broadening the sound.
But the stock systems aren't the end of the story. The 2009 Lancer Ralliart can be had with the same hard-drive-based navigation system and upgraded Rockford-Fosgate audio system as found in the Evo MR. The navigation system works well, and has space on its hard drive left over for music storage, while the Rockford-Fosgate audio system has a big 10-inch subwoofer to pump out the bass. The major lack here is iPod integration. You can read a detailed look at those options in our Evo MR review.
In its element
When we finally got the Lancer Ralliart into the hills, the fun really began. In sport mode, the SST got aggressive, downshifting quickly as we braked before a turn, the engine making bass notes at each change. That downshifting kept the revs high enough that, when we got back on the gas, the Lancer Ralliart showed no turbo lag. It was ready and willing to push the tires hard into the pavement. The car rewarded us with the sound of squealing rubber as we pushed it.
The all-wheel-drive system, although not as advanced as that found in the Evo MR, still has settings for asphalt, gravel, and snow, each mode successively limiting the amount of slip for each wheel so that for the slipperiest surfaces, the Lancer Ralliart keeps some power going to all wheels. As we were on roads, we kept it in the asphalt setting, where it delivered amazing results. Pounding into corner after corner, we kept up impressive speeds. Switching to manual mode with the SST, a flick of the paddles shifted gears much quicker than we could do with a clutch pedal, and each shift was precise. The only trouble with manual shifting came from not watching the tachometer, and over-revving the engine, resulting in fuel cutoff and a sudden drop in engine speed.
As much fun as we had in the turns with the Lancer Ralliart, it still falls short of the Evo MR. There was some slight body roll in the corners and, when pushed very hard, some understeer also became evident. But the biggest drawback was the brake hardware. The Evo MR comes with Brembo four-piston calipers in front, while the Lancer Ralliart is stuck with conventional calipers. As much as the rest of the car was willing and able to carve the corners, the brakes didn't offer the grip needed to slow the car quickly from straightaway to turn.
The 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart attempts to mix serious performance with the practicality of an everyday commuter. But its unhappiness at low speeds will keep you longing for weekend driving on the twisties. As such, we give it a high score for its performance tech, but knock that score down a bit due to its singular purpose. Although our test car wasn't equipped with the cabin tech options, it still earns a good score for the available navigation and audio systems. As for design, we like the cabin tech interface and the look of the car from front and back. The side view is the only slight letdown, where it just looks like a reasonably attractive economy car.
|Model||2009 Mitsubishi Lancer|
|Powertrain||Turbocharged 2-liter four cylinder engine|
|EPA fuel economy||17 mpg city/25 mpg highway|
|Observed fuel economy||21.8 mpg|
|Navigation||Optional hard drive-based|
|Bluetooth phone support||Standard|
|Disc player||Single CD, MP3 compatible|
|MP3 player support||None|
|Other digital audio||Optional hard drive storage with navigation, satellite radio, auxiliary input|
|Audio system||Optional Rockford-Fosgate with seven speakers and 650 watt amp|
|Price as tested||$26,490|
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