2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Page 1

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Automotive companies do battle on various levels. Their economy cars face off against the next guy's el-cheapo Kleenex box. Mid-range entries battle for volume supremacy. High-performance models duke it out at the upper end for headlines in the enthusiast press.

The 2009 Ralliart looks to fill the gap in Mitsubishi's Lancer lineup that includes the base Lancer models and the esteemed Evolution. At the Detroit auto show where the Ralliart made its debut, Mitsubishi had two previous Ralliart-badged cars to help position their newest model. The older Galant and Starion were both road-rally terrors in their day, and it was nice to see Mitsubishi polish-up those old racers and show them to the world.

Mitsubishi refers to the 2009 Lancer not as an economy car but as a "compact sport sedan," and its appearance and equipment—especially for the top GTS model—support this designation.

The Ralliart is powered by a new 2.0-liter intercooled and turbocharged engine that develops about 235 horsepower, up from the base Lancer at 153 but well shy of the Evo's 291.

The direct-shift twin-clutch six-speed gearbox (like the Evo) feeds all four wheels via a full-time system with the manufacturer's Active Center Differential. The ACD employs an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch center differential that directs torque forward or back depending on what's going on at each exact moment. Front helical and rear mechanical limited slip differentials ensure the Mitsu can put down as much power as the road surface allows.

The Ralliart sports a more aggressively styled nose and arse, the latter featuring twin exhaust tips. Inside, the changes are minor, but include paddle shifters from the Evo. Tempting options will quickly escalate the Ralliart's base price; Recaro seats, HID headlights, 650 watt Rockford Fosgate nine-speaker audio system, Sirius satellite radio, power sunroof, and a 30 GB Hard Drive Navigation system.

The exact rollout schedule and final pricing for the Ralliart aren't set yet, but as more facts become available, we'll fill you in. It should be interesting to see how this new Lancer fares against its nemeses from Subaru and Mazda.


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