2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart Review – Godzilla got back

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2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart
By Danny Chang


  • Punchy twin-clutch electronic sport transmission
  • Gravel-mode AWD
  • Super tight steering
  • Five-door convenience


  • Tight luggage room when rear seat in use
  • Slower-than hoped for off-the-line acceleration
  • Less-than-ideal 17-25 MPG

First of all, let me preface this review with a disclaimer – this will not be an unbiased review that you have come to expect from me (?). Oh wait. This will be just like all the other passionate reviews you can expect from me. But this one is different. I loved this Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart . I loved it. I have always been a fan of World Rally Championship (WRC) cars. The idea of a compact car souped up to the nuts and powered up to crazy proportions with oversize wide tracks and crazy fenders and airplane-sized wings rushing down dirt roads at over 100 MPH (and very rarely, ok, sometimes, ok, ok, quite often running over bystanders) just screams “Awesome!” to me. Now I know the Ralliart is the cheaper and detuned version of the Evo X MR, but it is still an awesome car. So when I saw the 2010 Lancer Ralliart Sportback on the list of upcoming cars sent by my editor, I jumped at the chance of testing it. And I put it to really good use too.

2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart

Driving Impressions

The Lancer Sportback Ralliart has a 237 horsepower turbo-charged MIVEC 2.0 liter inline four cylinder that pumps out 253 ft.lb. of torque. Off-the-line acceleration was a little disappointing but once the turbo kicks in, you’re golden. The dual clutch electronic transmission shifts at lightening speeds and can be set to either a Sport or Normal mode. I recommend the Sport mode. This means higher shift points and aggressive downshifts. You can redline in every gear. Great for the heart. Not so good on the pocket book because the MPG goes to the hizzle. It is a fast transmission. It is a smooth-enough transmission. It is also an intelligent transmission. The rev-matching as you downshift with the magnesium paddle shifters has to be experienced. No more heel-toe shifting as you brake approaching a corner looking for a fast exit, it just happens.

The best part about the transmission, however, is the acoustics. It produces this mechanical music that sounds super high-tech, kind of like when the movie Autobots and Decepticons transform. But enough about acoustics. The Lancer Ralliart handles like no other car I’ve tested to date. It is equally capable onroad as it is offroad. I drove it all the way down from the San Francisco Peninsula down to San Luis Obispo, then up this dirt road to the top of a hill where a bunch of my buddies rented a house. So I got to use two out of the three settings on the Active Center Differential(ACD) married to the AWC (All Wheel Control) AWD system, Tarmac and Gravel but unfortunately not Snow. I felt like Sebastien Loeb rushing down the dirt roads of Portugal.

2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart 6-speed Twin-Clutch Sportronic Shift Transmission


No complaints here. The Lancer Sportback Ralliart felt very solid as I cruised down the 101 freeway with no body creaks and even after driving up and down the hill on the dirt road at over 30 MPH (I know, not quite Loeb-like), the Lancer produced no loose panels and felt extremely firm. The Sportback does not have a reinforcement tension bar(aka rear shock tower brace) since the backseats fold down completely, but the body still felt very solid and did not exhibit any signs of body twists. The doors close with a thud and the headlight and taillight assemblies look high-tech and sophisticated.

Interior Comfort and Ergonomics

The Ralliart sports Recaro seats in the front row for both the driver and passenger. They are very firm and offer good lumbar support. I was guaranteed not to slide from side to side as I battled the twisty dirt road in SLO town. But they’re not the greatest for any road trip longer than two hours. My lower back was so sore after the four-hour trip to San Luis Obispo I had to climb out of the car. Or maybe I’m just getting old. My passenger for the road trip had no issues and said the rear seats were fairly comfortable and supportive. The touch screen stereo/nav unit was fairly intuitive and easy to reach, and the other controls were fairly straight forward. I loved the paddle shifters on the steering column, and the small steering wheel that feels very sportive.

Lancer Sportback Ralliart interiorLancer Sportback Ralliart Recaro seatsMitsubishi Lancer Sportback 710 Watt Rockford Fosgate audio system with touchscreen navigation


I loved the performance of the Lancer Sportback Ralliart. As I already mentioned, the acceleration off the line is not the greatest, but the very capable and fast 6-speed transmission combined with the turbo quickly gets you up and going. The confident handling of the car also lets you round corners at fast (but legal) speeds without you or the passengers breaking a sweat.

I’m not really sure what the Gravel setting in AWD does actually (ok, according to literature, the Gravel setting is for wet or rough surfaces and the AWC computer uses an algorithm based on inputs such as engine and wheel speed sensors, steering angle sensors and G force sensors to direct the Active Center Differential(ACD) to change the distribution of drive torque between the front and rear wheels in response to the different road conditions. Whew that’s a mouthful!), but it gave me great confidence as I sped up and down the hill on the windy dirt road to the hilltop Sky House in Los Osos near San Luis Obispo. The Sportback was kicking up a lot of dirt and left a trail of rising dust behind the car as I went up the hill, my friends at the house could see me approaching just like in a WRC race (in slow motion).

2010 Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback Ralliart


The Lancer Sportback Ralliart handles great. It is smooth and straight on the highway and tight and responsive on the curves. It hugs corners. It was also super confident on the windy dirt road up the hill. Hands down the Lancer Ralliart is one of the best handling cars I’ve ever driven.

(Continued on page 2)

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