Road Test: The 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart – Yahoo Voices – voices.yahoo.com

22 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Road Test: The 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart – Yahoo Voices – voices.yahoo.com
Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback

Road Test: The 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart

The human brain is the least understood organism in nature. It is a never ending wellspring of memories and feelings that constantly echo through your subconscious. It is the part of your body that makes you fall in love and is the one that tells you to be sensible.

Now, what does this have to do with the 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart? More than you might think.

Well, besides the fact that it has a ridiculously long name, this 237 horsepower all-wheel drive performance hatchback somehow managed to bring me back to the feeling I got from driving my very first car. You remember your first car, don’t you? The car that gave you a feeling of freedom and that life was an endless, open road full of infinite possibilities.

Back before your car was just what you used to get to work every morning.

My first car was a 1977 BMW 320i which didn’t even have power steering and was borderline dangerous in wet weather thanks to some very slippery handling tendencies. The Lancer Sportback Ralliart’s all-wheel drive system never lets any such nonsense happen and its power steering system is probably the best I have ever tested. So where is the connection?

The point is that this little Mitsubishi made me look past any of its flaws (as I did with my BMW) and turned me into a grinning, giddy idiot every time I drove it. It was exactly how I felt when I got into that old BMW when I was 16. I have never felt that way in any other car I have owned or tested but the Lancer Sportback Ralliart took me back to that age when driving felt new.

Back when I had a full head of hair.

Now I am not sure a Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart will have the same effect on you but quite frankly I wasn’t expecting to like this car as much as I did. Mitsubishi often surprises me, however, as I really enjoyed a previous week spent driving a more humble Lancer GTS sedan.

But I will break down the good, the bad and the ugly for you in this review so you can make up your own mind. Just remember that some things are not just the sum total of their parts. Some things have a character and soul that cannot be defined in strictly analytical terms.

Kind of like the human brain or the 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart.

Exterior Design

The first thing I noticed about the 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart is that it looks like nothing else on the road. The deliciously bulbous posterior of this five door hatchback makes for a nice visual contrast to the angular and somewhat evil looking front end design. It isn’t cohesive by any stretch but somehow it works.

One aspect of my test Lancer Sportback that threw me for a loop was its very, um, expressive exterior color. It is called Rotor Glow by Mitsubishi but you would know it by its more commonly known name-Orange.

It was shade of orange that ensured I was stared at by other drivers at stoplights, gas stations and all of the mini-mall parking lots that fill the suburban landscape near my home in Orange County. Lamborghinis and Bentleys are a common sight in my neighborhood so a car has to really be something to get such a reaction from the from the usually expressionless, Botox loving local population.

I do admit that the orange tint did make the Sportback Ralliart look a bit like a pumpkin. Okay, a lot like a pumpkin. But I really grew to like the very extroverted color that shouted, I’m here, I’m orange, get used to it!

Some may prefer the more traditional look of the Lancer sedan (which is also available in Ralliart form) but I have a have a soft spot for five door hatchbacks. I also have a soft spot for any design that is daring, utterly unique and separate from the norm. Mitsubishi’s Lancer Sportback marches to the beat of its own drummer and the world is a better place for it.

Honestly, do we need another Corolla clone?

Interior Design and Build Quality

Mitsubishi has taken a lot of guff for not slathering their interiors with soft touch plastics and shiny chrome trim. The dashboard design of the 2010 Lancer Sportback Ralliart is simple, honest and straightforward. There are no design gimmicks on display here and as it turns out, Mitsubishi’s hard touch plastic is quite resistant to scratching.

It is also very easy to clean.

My test model came equipped with two large Recaro racing seats for the driver and passenger that were extremely comfortable once you got down into them. It can be a bit tricky to squeeze into if you are large like me but the payoff is that you never slide across the seat even during ridiculously fast cornering maneuvers. These large seats do, however, eat into the rear legroom a bit.

Other than the fact that it lacks soft touch plastic, the interior of the Lancer Sportback Ralliart is very well built and nothing was squeaking or rattling in my rather high mileage tester. That is saying something as auto journalists routinely abuse test cars.

It may not possess an inspiring interior design but the 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart is very comfortable, roomy and it gets the job done. Besides, if the interior was glitzy and over the top it just might distract you from the driving experience. And that is what really makes the Lancer Sportback Ralliart stand out from the crowd.

Pricing, Features and Fuel Economy

The 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart starts at $27,950 and comes well equipped with automatic climate control, power windows, keyless entry, a keyless go system, a sport steering wheel with audio/cruise controls, full-time all wheel drive, Bluetooth, halogen headlamps, floormats, 18-inch alloy wheels, sticky Yokohama Summer tires and much more.

I would recommend, however, that you tick the option box for the $2,750 Recaro Sport Package. My tester was so equipped and it adds two body hugging Recaro race seats, HID (High Intensity Discharge) headlamps with height adjustability, Sirius and a powerful 710-watt Rockford Fosgate audio system with nine speakers and a very large subwoofer.

The only thing missing was USB/iPod integration but Mitsubishi will apparently be offering it with 2011 Lancer models. An in-dash navigation unit with 40 Gigabytes of song storage capacity is also optional for $1,999. The only drawback to Mitsubishi’s navigation system is that it lacks a knob for adjusting the volume.

Instead, it has a difficult to reach switch that adjusts volume with speed akin to molasses running down the side of a pine tree.

Although the 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart has EPA fuel economy estimates of 17 city/25 highway I only managed 11 miles per gallon over the course of my testing. Although that is a pretty bad number, I am sure fuel economy would improve for those who don’t feel compelled to floor the go pedal at every opportunity.

Considering the prolific thrust afforded by the 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart, a person should really take into consideration whether a bright orange car is a good idea. Can you say ticket magnet? (Note: All normally aspirated Lancer models come with a 10 year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty but vehicles like the EVO and Ralliart only come with 5 years/60,000 miles of coverage. Take that information however you’d like.)

Driving Impressions

The 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart is a true hot hatch but it offers up technology and performance features that could lead you to believe this was created for the race track. Although I love the supremely well rounded GTI, the Lancer Sportback Ralliart can do things that the VW just can’t.

To combat torque steer and give driver’s tenacious wet weather grip, the car comes equipped with full time all-wheel drive with settings for tarmac, gravel, and snow. I am not really sure how many people will actually ever need the gravel setting unless they decide to go rally car racing. But it’s good to know it’s there.

Further adding to the Sportback Ralliart’s handling composure is a helical limited slip differential up front and mechanical limited slip differential at the rear. Not only do these aforementioned systems improve traction and handling but they also completely eliminate all torque steer.

The purely front wheel drive MazdaSpeed3 is one similarly powerful model, for example, that needs this sort of set-up thanks to its notorious tendency to pull to the side in low gears ( note: that’s torque steer if you were wondering) . But this sort of technology is why the 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart is more expensive. The MazdaSpeed3 is built more to a price but it’s true what they say-you get what you pay for.

All 2010 Lancer Sportback Ralliart models come equipped with a ferociously powerful 2.0 liter turbocharged and intercooled 237 horsepower/253 lb. feet of torque 4-cylinder engine. A six-speed double clutch automatic is standard and there are perfectly shaped paddle shifters right behind the sport steering wheel.

Now, before you start screaming about the lack of a manual transmission option with Ralliart models let me talk about the double clutch automatic. While some reviews have mentioned the fact that this transmission is sometimes hesitant with shifts at low speeds, that problem goes away after a couple of hours of acclimation behind the wheel. You just have to learn how to drive this performance car properly.

If you do drive a vehicle with a manual transmission, you know that every car has its own unique shift action and clutch feel. It takes a few hours to adjust to how that manual transmission operates and this double clutch is no different. For instance, sometimes the DSG causes the car to lurch a bit at parking lot speeds but I got around this by putting it in manual mode and shifting into second gear.

Problem solved.

But those minor inconveniences are nothing once you leave it in purely manual mode and switch on the Sport setting. This is the very first paddle-shifter equipped automobile that I rarely left in automatic mode. Shifts are instantaneous when you gun it all the way to redline and the transmission never decides when to change gears no matter how dumb you are.

The engine, oh, the deliciousness of the engine! As the thrust and revs build the motor takes on a down and dirty tone that can only be described as gravelly. It sounds a bit like Lauren Bacall after smoking two packs of menthol cigarettes.

The engine may not be quiet or possess Lexus-like refinement but it has a character that suits the car.

At cruising speeds there is some noticeable tire rumble but even the engine settles down into a quiet hum in sixth gear on the freeway. So, yes, you can still commute in the 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart.

If you really think there’s too much noise either you are too old for this car or you should just crank up the Rockford Fosgate audio system and deal with it. That 710 watt sound system is so powerful it might even drown out the noise of police sirens behind you. I am just saying it’s possible.

But the most amazing part of the 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart package is the steering system which is more precise, linear and quick than any I have ever experienced. Yes, even BMW steering racks feel sloppy compared to Mitsubishi’s set-up. Some may find the instantaneous response to be a bit too edgy but to me it serves as the cherry on top of a very delicious automotive sundae.

The Ralliart is the top of the line Lancer Sportback as Mitsubishi only offers the EVO as a four door sedan. But given all of the Ralliart’s many talents and the added utility of the five door hatchback body style, I think this is the pick of the performance Lancer line-up. And the EVO, at least in my hands, would only land me in the never ending hell known as traffic school.

Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback

How Dog and Kid Friendly is It?

Although it might not look like it, the racy looking Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart is surprisingly family and dog friendly. Granted, it is probably best if you only have one large dog or one human child of any size. If you have 3 kids you are pretty much stuck with a minivan or SUV unless you decide to have a total midlife crisis.

The 13.8 cubic foot cargo hold is nicely shaped to afford maximum grocery carrying ability and when the rear seats are folded flat you are left with an SUV rivaling 46.6 cubic feet of space. To fold down the second row of seats there are two clever little louvers built into the sides of the cargo area.

Usually you have to open the rear doors in a hatchback to fold the second row of perches but Mitsubishi wisely moved control of that function from the top of the rear seatback to the cargo hold. That one feature could be a godsend when you are loading in bulky and heavy cargo. Or a 120 pound bag of kibble.

Final Thoughts

Although the 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart has some noticeable flaws, they are easy to overlook because it is just so darn charming. It is sort of like the Robert Downey Jr. of the automotive world but without all of the rehab.

With ferocious amounts of power, tenacious grip and razor sharp steering feel, it is hard to understand why anyone really needs to buy the more powerful EVO model. Still, it is a shame that Mitsubishi doesn’t offer an EVO version of the Lancer in the Sportback body style. That would be one fast pumpkin.

Vehicle Tested: 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart

Base Price . $27,590

Price as Tested . $31,210 (including destination)

Options on Tester . Rotor Glow Metallic Paint. ($150), Recaro Sport Package. ($2,750)-(includes Recaro racing seats for driver and passenger, HID (High Intensity Discharge) headlamps, 710 watt Rockford Fosgate 6-disc/MP3 audio system with 9-speakers and a subwoofer, Sirius satellite radio.)

Engine . 2.4 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder

Power . 237 horsepower/253 lb. feet of torque

Transmission . 6-speed Sportronic dual-clutch automatic

0-60 . 5.4 seconds (estimated)

Fuel Economy (EPA): 17 city/25 highway

Fuel Economy during Testing . 12 miles per gallon

Runs on . Premium Unleaded

Fuel Tank Size . 14.5 gallons

Cargo Volume (rear seats in place): 13.8 cubic feet

Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback
Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback

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