Test Drive: 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart car test drives reviews mitsubishi
2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart. Click image to enlarge

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Manufacturer’s web site
Mitsubishi Motors Canada

Review and photos by Michael Schlee

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2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart

I feel like it has been raining everyday this fall (and no, I don’t live in Vancouver; this is not normal). So when it came time to test the 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart, it was of course, raining. During a lapse in judgment regarding the prevailing conditions, I was a little too aggressive taking a corner and applied the gas prematurely, causing the rear end of the car to rotate. I braced for a lurid power-slide and began to counter steer. Before you could say, “public power-slides are unsafe,” the All Wheel Control (Mitsubishi-speak for all-wheel drive) system kicked in and straightened me out with a shot of forward thrust. It was then I learned just how intelligent the AWC system is.

New in 2010, the Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart is now in its second year of production. The Ralliart fills the gap that used to exist between the top-dog Lancer Evolution and all the other pedestrian Lancer models. With All Wheel Control, Mitsubishi’s SST Twin Clutch transmission and a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, this car is a serious hot hatch.

Test Drive: 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart car test drives reviews mitsubishi
2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart; photo courtesy Mitsubishi Motors Canada. Click image to enlarge

At a starting price of $31,999, its closest and most obvious competitor is the Subaru Impreza WRX. However, many potential customers in this price range may cross-shop it with the likes of Volkswagen GTI, Mazdaspeed3, or even Honda Civic Si. It is strange how some cars slip under the radar: with all its performance credentials, one would expect the Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart to gain the same attention as the above-mentioned competitors, but for whatever reason, it doesn’t.

The Ralliart edition of the Lancer has a front fascia reminiscent of the fire-breathing Lancer Evolution. Even after all these years, it is still nicely styled with an aggressive look that is not over the top. The rear spoiler is a little excessive on all Lancer Sportbacks, although the steep rake of the rear window would make the car look unbalanced without it. The aforementioned sloped rear window cuts into rear cargo space but offers up a more coupe-like appearance than many other hatchbacks.

Test Drive: 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart car test drives reviews mitsubishi
Test Drive: 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart car test drives reviews mitsubishi
2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart. Click image to enlarge

The Ralliart comes standard with 18-inch wheels that are simple yet attractive. The stock P215/45R18-inch all-season tires are a bit low on grip for a car with such potential – a summer tire with a slightly wider tread would do wonders for the handling of this car. When pushed hard into corners, the all-season tires are too willing to give up grip and will howl in displeasure.

The Twin Clutch SST transmission is Mitsubishi’s take on the dual clutch transmission. Admittedly, I had yet to drive a dual clutch transmission until this Ralliart, and so wasn’t sure what to expect. I was quite surprised at how responsive it was when driven hard in ‘Sport’ mode. I can see how cars like the EVO and GT-R can outrun more powerful competitors around a racetrack. In ‘Normal’ mode, it drives similarly to a manumatic gearbox except for the constant downshifting when decelerating. It can be a bit jerky in traffic: I had one passenger who actually criticized my driving because of this.

Inside the car, the Ralliart’s gauge cluster is well thought out and delivers all necessary information clearly. Transmission mode and AWC options such as ‘Snow, Gravel and Tarmac’ are displayed here along with all the usual trip/fuel/speed readouts. One annoying nuance has to do with the fuel mileage computer. After you park the car for more then four hours, it resets the average fuel mileage automatically. There is no setting to override this. So, unless average fuel consumption is recorded after every drive, there is no way to see an average over an extended period of time.

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