Rally-Car Rivalry: 2011 Subaru WRX vs 2010 Mitsubishi Ralliart Page 2

July 19, 2010
While the first Ralliart Sportback we drove, last year, was equipped with all-season tires that truly detracted from the driving experience, with both more road noise and less grip, this test car was equipped with the proper Yokohama Advan summer performance tires; they made a huge difference and felt much grippier and more progressive.

In either case, we loved the Ralliart's handling. Just as with the more expensive Evolution, the Ralliart has quick, direct steering that's about the best it gets in any new vehicle.

Remarkably close in size, shape, and purpose...but different in personality

In looking at the specs of both hatchback models, it's remarkable how close they are. Both are about 180 inches long, with a wheelbase in the vicinity of 103 inches and an overall width of just less than 70 inches (not counting the Subaru's new flanks).

There are a few impossible-to-ignore personality differences between these two models. For starters, the exhaust note of the Subaru is a low thrum that pulsates more when pressed; meanwhile, the Ralliart sounds a bit more generic and resonated—more like you'd expect a tuner car to sound.

We found it slightly easier to reach a comfortable, upright driving position in the Ralliart, though the downside was more difficult outward visibility. The Subaru feels to have a larger, airier greenhouse with, from most angles, a better view out.

The switchgear in either car isn't anything to behold, but we really didn't like the weak, tinny way the doors closed in the Ralliart. The dash and door trim felt a step down in the Ralliart; with the hard door trim showing some scratches and wear already…

But there are some packaging advantages. With the Ralliart's seats down there seemed a little more space (perhaps with a slightly higher ceiling), and there's a quick-release lever up alongside the cargo area, so that you can flip the seat forward with one arm—something the WRX doesn't have. Yet the subwoofer for the available Rockford Fosgate audio system eats up a little of cargo space.

That 710-watt premium sound system in the Mitsubishi, by the way, sounds better than what you get in the Subaru, although it's only available as part of a pricey, $2,500 Recaro Sport Package that brings the sound system plus Sirius Satellite Radio, Recaro sport seats, and HID headlamps. A navigation system is available separately, though only as a port-installed option.

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