Flash Drive: 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart
This 2009 review is representative of model years 2008 to 2013.
By Staff of MSN Autos
The Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart I drove had an automatic gearbox with paddle shifters behind the steering wheel. On most cars, I intentionally don't use the "sport" button, or the pseudo-manual shifting on an automatic transmission, because I don't believe that real owners of cars with those options ever bother to use them (after the first few weeks of ownership). However, driving the Lancer Ralliart as an automatic is absolutely awful; the engine surges and the whole car bucks constantly. So in this case, I found the paddle shifters to be a revelation, and a requirement. Driven as a manual, with the ultrasmooth shifts delivered by the dual-clutch transmission, the Lancer Ralliart is wonderful. The paddle shifters are just as responsive as a normal manual transmission, but of course there's no chance of a stall or a missed shift. – Paul Hagger
The new Lancer Ralliart is a car that will put a smile on your face. Pairing a quick, turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with all-wheel drive and a sport suspension is a recipe for fun, fun, fun. Using the twin-clutch gearbox imitated a manual transmission and could hold the gear longer before upshifting, although driving in first and second gear felt jerky. While the car is great at carving corners quickly, you can also achieve decent gas mileage when driving conservatively during a commute. I achieved 23 mpg in mixed driving. The Ralliart tested came with the Recaro package, which included a powerful Rockford Fosgate audio system that sounded great. The Recaro sport seats looked great and felt supportive, but made it difficult to look over your shoulder when changing lanes. From a fun/cost value perspective, the Ralliart does a great job delivering a spirited driving experience while not breaking your checkbook. – Joe Chulick
Previous versions of the Ralliart were just slightly more powerful copies of the basic Lancer, but this latest generation takes things to an all-new level. Stylingwise, it's not all that different from the GTS - the telltales are the Evo-like vents in the hood and the almost-too-tight sport seats inside. But it's the turbocharged 237-horsepower engine and Mitsu's fast-shifting dual-clutch SST gearbox that really set the Ralliart apart from the basic Lancer. With full-time all-wheel drive, the Ralliart sticks to the road, corners quickly and is just a blast to drive, but the high-tech gearbox seems to take too long to engage from a stop. There's a noticeable delay from pressing the accelerator to actually moving off the line, a little scary when pulling onto a busy street. But once you get moving, performance is excellent, with plenty of torque to push you back in the seat. The Ralliart is an excellent alternative if the Evo is out of your price range. – Perry Stern