- Performance for the money
- Overt exterior styling
- Sharp, communicative steering
- Reasonably roomy backseat
- Lots of road noise inside
- On-a-budget interior feel
- Hesitation from dual-clutch gearbox in gentle driving
The 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart is essentially the daily-driving Evo, with every bit the racy look but not the jarring ride and peaky powertrain.
The 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart is a well-honed sporty sedan with a tuner-car look and feel—and an appearance closely resembling that of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution, which has been benched for the 2009 model year. The Ralliart is based heavily on the sportier GTS version of the economical Mitsubishi Lancer sedan, which is covered by a different review. While the Evolution made its debut last year, the Ralliart is new this year, and it lands between the sportiest standard Lancer sedan, the GTS, and the high-performance Evo in demeanor.
The 2009 Ralliart shares much, appearance- and equipment-wise, with the Lancer GTS; however, the Ralliart does get the Evolution's lightweight aluminum hood with integral ductwork to keep the turbo cool, along with a more aggressively styled front bumper and dual exhaust.
The Ralliart picks up a lower-boost, 237-hp version of the Evo's 291-hp 2.0-liter, tuned here for stronger low- and mid-rev response. The six-speed automated manual transmission, termed Twin Clutch-SST, that premiered in last year's Evo MR is now exclusively offered on the Ralliart, and it includes Normal and Sport driving modes.
Just like in the Evo, the Ralliart comes with a sophisticated set of mechanical and electronic systems designed to transmit power smoothly to the pavement, even when the driver isn't using finesse or the conditions aren't ideal. Highlights include Super All-Wheel Control, an Active Center Differential, a helical gear front differential, and Active Yaw Control. Altogether, these systems give the 2009 Mitsubishi Ralliart great agility and tractability.
In the opinion of several TheCarConnection.com editors, most daily drivers will prefer the 2009 Mitsubishi Ralliart to the Evolution, so there's no need to wait for the Evo to come back. Even though the Ralliart's engine produces 54 fewer horsepower, it actually feels stronger and smoother in most types of driving, and the twin-clutch transmission is an ideal companion, shifting quickly and responsively, with only a bit of hesitation in gentle acceleration. Overall, there's less of the rubber-band hesitation from the time you need more power until it's delivered in a mad rush.
The chassis underpinning the Ralliart doesn't feel quite as precise and unyielding as that of the Evolution, but that's mostly a good thing again for everyday driving. The steering is sharp and has a very quick ratio, along with good feedback, and stout brakes round out the package, although the suspension can rebound abruptly, temporarily flustering the Ralliart's otherwise good composure, when getting back on the power out of a bumpy corner. The Yokohama tires could be part of it; they hold on admirably but measure a rather narrow 215 width. Those suspension trade-offs are worth it if you drive on bumpy roads; even though the 2009 Mitsubishi Ralliart allows a heavy dose of road noise inside, it's not downright jarring.
The interior of the 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart is its failing; it's too similar to what's offered in the bargain-priced Lancer, and a little too no-frills for a car that can sticker well over $30,000. The backseat is actually spacious enough for small adults, and it includes a 60/40-split folding seatback to expand trunk cargo space.
The Ralliart comes very well equipped, with fog lamps, a hands-free entry system, a trip computer, automatic climate control, Bluetooth, leather trim, and aluminum pedals. Remote engine start and a nav system with music storage are among the options. The standard sport seats are firm and supportive, but the Recaro seat option—which brings perches more like those in the Evo—is worth getting; it includes HID headlamps and a bassy Rockford Fosgate sound-system upgrade.
Electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, head-curtain side airbags, front-seat mounted side bags, and a driver knee airbag are all on the Ralliart's standard-features list. The 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart shares its body structure with the standard Lancer sedan, not the Evolution, so we can say that it will likely perform in a similar manner. The Lancer sedan got top "good" ratings from the IIHS in frontal offset and rear tests, as well as an equal mix of four- and five-star results in federal tests.