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Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart 2012 Review

Whether you can't afford a Lancer Evo X or just can't see $66,000 in it these days, there's a real-world alternative that saves 20 big ones and a fair bit of wear on your fillings.

The Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart runs a milder version of the Evo's engine and its previous generation's all-wheel-drive system. It can't emulate the staggering cat-on-a-curtain dynamics of the Lancer flagship but it must be the best-value hot family car to be had.

VALUE

This gets better the closer you look with $44,490 for the MY12 version plus $450 for metallic paint. Standard is brake assist system, nicer trims, eight spoke alloys and reversing sensors with a brilliant, class-leading rear mirror mounted camera.

The $4000 luxury pack adds multi-media system, premium audio and leather. That's approaching Golf R money  but VW's service costs are wincingly steep. The Mitsu provides capped costs to 60,000km, five years roadside assist, a five-year/130,000km warranty and a whole decade's powertrain protection.

As the bloke at the garage said: "Who guarantees a turbo for 10 years?" If value is peace of mind, Mitsubishi has the pack eating dust.

TECHNOLOGY

One gearbox for the Ralliart, the six-speed TC-SST automated manual which transmits the four-cylinder turbo petrol's handy 177kW/343Nm to all four wheels. Flappy paddle tranny aside, there's nothing altogether new about its array but, as with so much about the "Lallirat" it is unexceptional but exceptionally effective.

The AWD system lacks  the miraculous yaw sensors of the Evo X, getting instead a simpler rear differential. Again, it's surpassingly adequate.

STYLING

"Polarising" to be polite. The problem with so strident a design as the Lancer's is its propensity to age rapidly. Standing out is one thing, sticking out is another  see the Mazda3 in a few years. Some already see the near-five-year-old Lancer that way.

Equally subjectively, I much prefer the sedan, though I'd pay money to de-option its whacking great boot spoiler. Open the door and it's hard to contradict the detractors. Slabby, plasticky, grey and grim, the perception of ordinariness is hardly dispelled by doors that slam with a hollow tinny report. Sorry, a near-$50,000 car without a fully adjustable steering column just ain't good enough.

SAFETY

The five-star crash safety rating equals the best. The average airbag component plus one (equals seven) puts it ahead. With the best front-wheel-drives being so adept, you can argue that the perceived advantage of all-paw grip is marginal. For the greater part of the time, there's much to this argument. Then there might come a time when maximum traction is vital.

DRIVING

If your driving life is spent on track trying to surpass your previous lap time, or otherwise at 10/10ths, you could take issue with the Ralliart's weight and less than linear acceleration off the mark. All the torque turns up at 2500rpm and it's plain sailing thereafter. Left in normal, the SST seeks high gear as early as feasible, kicking down smartly under a decent prod.

Flipping sport mode takes it down a couple of gears  this is too frenetic for anything other than those mystical mountain roads untroubled by law enforcement. Body control is a highlight, especially given a near 1600kg kerb weight.

VERDICT

As close as you'll come to an affordable shopping trolley go-kart.

Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart

Price: from $44,490
Engine: four-cylinder turbo petrol, 177kW/343Nm
Transmission: six-speed TC-SST Manual
Safety: Five-star crash rating
Warranty: 5 years/130,000km

Pricing guides

$9,990
Based on 115 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$5,990
Highest Price
$39,999

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
Activ Sportback 2.0L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $10,888 – 11,800 2012 Mitsubishi Lancer 2012 Activ Sportback Pricing and Specs
ES Sportback 2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO $6,990 – 11,999 2012 Mitsubishi Lancer 2012 ES Sportback Pricing and Specs
LX Sportback 2.0L, ULP, CVT AUTO $7,950 – 13,990 2012 Mitsubishi Lancer 2012 LX Sportback Pricing and Specs
Platinum Edition Sportsback 2.0L, ULP, 5 SP MAN $9,990 – 9,999 2012 Mitsubishi Lancer 2012 Platinum Edition Sportsback Pricing and Specs