Quick Drive: 2011 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart

Reviews I By Tom Martin I May 02, 2011

The last time we had a Ralliart—a sedan—I was quite charmed. The Ralliart has a fun level of power, a well-controlled suspension, and one of the best AMT transmissions around (which Mitsubishi calls SST—a dual clutch system). As a mini-Evo for those who want SST and don’t have the coin for the big hitter, it seemed like a very attractive package. I did feel that power was a smidge lower than one might want, as was grip on the street.

Now along comes the Sportback version of the Ralliart, and—voila!—the power seems to be up and the grip as well. This still isn’t an Evo, but I really had the sense that you would notice the deficiencies less than with the earlier Ralliart. This all might be sample-to-sample variance, but in any event, if the Ralliart fits your profile, be sure to drive the Sportback.
The Ralliart does gain over the Evo by delivering a somewhat easier-to-live-with ride package. In fact the whole car seems less caffeinated, which day-to-day may be an advantage for some and a drawback for others.
I like the hatch configuration as well. Not because of the styling, which isn’t bad, but always seems slightly odd in its proportions. But I like it because a hatch allows you to carry things that a trunk doesn’t. The Sportback hatch is far from the most useful, but for casual carrying it is a small advantage.
The hard part for the Ralliart is that the cars on dealer lots seem to be priced so close to the Evo with a conventional manual transmission. In reality it is $6000 less than the Evo GSR and $9000 less than the MR, so there really is a difference.
Finally, I’d say the Ralliart is a very different kettle of fish from the WRX. The WRX is torquey, while the Ralliart feels revvier. The Ralliart has paddle shift, where the WRX has a very usable manual. The Ralliart feels smoother and less gritty. The WRX feels softer and more fluid. Neither has great steering, but somehow the Mitsu setup seems initially better due to quickness while probably transmitting less information (which likely will make the WRX more satisfying). Both have usable interiors, though I’d rate the seating on the Mitsubishi higher and the space in the Subaru higher.
—Tom Martin, Editorial Director
  • Almost as fun as an Evo for less coin
  • SST automated manual is one of the best on the market
  • Rides smoother than its big brother
  • Hard to find an affordable new copy on dealer lots
  • Lacks the space of a five-door WRX
  • No stick shift manual option

The Guide to Road Racing: Winding Road Magazine's ultimate guide to getting your start in racing.

Table of Contents

Related Articles

The Genesis G90 Bang & Olufsen Audio System

The Genesis G90 Bang & Olufsen audio system has given birth to an exceptional audio experience that redefines in-car sound.

October 27, 2023
Driven: 2023 Toyota GR86 Compliments the Curves

How does the 2023 Toyota GR86 fair on the Tail of the Dragon? Put simply, it’s the perfect tool for tackling the famous curves.

August 21, 2023
Review: Le Mans 100 Book is a Winner

As a devoted motorsport enthusiast, my anticipation for the Le Mans 100 book by Glen Smale was sky-high following the thrilling and unforgettable 24 Hours…

July 07, 2023
Review: The G80 M3 Manual is a Lovable Driving Machine

The G80 M3’s personality is just far too muddied, but at least what it’s courageous enough to express is well-sorted excellence.

June 02, 2023
The Mullin Automotive Museum Immortalizes the Grandeur of French Pre-War Car Culture

What’s behind the doors of the Mullin Automotive Museum aren’t just cars, but works of art in every shape and form.

June 01, 2023


Get the latest driving and racing news straight to your inbox.

no thanks

Begin typing your search above and press return to search.