Lancer evolves to take on WRX and STI

Mitsubishi is taking full aim at Subaru's road-going rally car hegemony, announcing specifications of its Lancer Evolution models, and the unveiling of the Lancer Ralliart in Australia for the first time.

Mitsubishi is taking full aim at Subaru's road-going rally car hegemony, announcing specifications of its Lancer Evolution models, and the unveiling of the Lancer Ralliart in Australia for the first time.

Arriving down under in May, the Lancer Evolution X will come in two specifications -- surprise, surprise -- just like its direct competitor, the chunky Subaru Impreza WRX STI. Both Evo models share a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 217kW of power and 366Nm of torque driving all four wheels. There's a clutch of electronic and mechanical aides which aim to turn us from mere mortals to Tommi Mäkinen. Dubbed Super-All Wheel Control, it combines a cornucopia of trademarkable terms, including Active Centre Differential (which splits torque between front and rear wheels) and Super Active Yaw Control (which splits torque between the rear wheels), as well as stability control, anti-lock braking and brake force distribution.

The "base" Evolution allows you a choice of either the five-speed manual or six-speed dual-clutch automated manual (TC-SST), while the higher-spec Evolution MR comes only with TC-SST. Both have 18-inch alloy wheels (although they have different designs), Brembo brakes, Recaro bucket seats and Bluetooth hands-free. The MR gains an upgraded brake and suspension package, as well as a range of interior and exterior trinkets, including a Rockford Fosgate sound system.

Although pricing has yet to be confirmed, we'd be surprised if it strayed too far from the AU$59,990 and AU$64,990 price points for the two WRX STI models. For those whose bank managers aren't willing to let go of 60-large, there's going to be a cheaper Lancer Ralliart model going head-to-head -- you guessed it -- with Subaru's Impreza WRX.

The Ralliart model follows the Evo's template: turbocharged 2.0-litre four cylinder engine with four-wheel drive. Power's down from 217kW to 177kW and while it misses out on the full complement of Super-All Wheel Control gear, it does have the Evo's Active Centre Differential which splits torque between the front and rear wheels depending on the conditions. And while the Evo's pumped up bodywork is AWOL, the twin-clutch automated manual transmission is being offered on overseas models. Full pricing and specifications will be available closer to its third-quarter launch in Australia.

So, after the gloom of closing its Australian factory, the grey skies just might finally be clearing over Mitsubishi Australia's headquarters in Adelaide.

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