Not since the Beatles and the Rolling Stones has there been a manufactured rivalry to match that of Subaru's WRX STi and Mitsubishi's Lancer Evolution. More words have been written and arguments had over these two cars than just about any others on the planet. Only the battle between Commodore and Falcon has been as divisive as this.
But until now, Mitsubishi has lacked a car that didn't need water wings, and so the STi's kid brother, WRX, has held sway; ruining more reputations than Heidi Fleiss and racking up more comparison wins than Michael Phelps has Olympic gold medals. WRX, meet Ralliart Lancer. Godzilla, meet King Kong.
And just a quick glance at the spec sheet is enough to tell
you Mitsubishi isn't mucking about with the Ralliart Lancer; it cops plenty of
go-fast-and-defy-the-laws-of-physics gear from both
the Evo IX and X. Yummy.
The scooped and vented bonnet is straight off the Evo X and gives that shark snout, in any colour other than black, plenty of visual muscle. As for the rest of the car, it's more or less just a Lancer VRX, but the bonnet and the Ralliart badges do enough to set it apart. Just. And while the 215/45 R18 Yokohama Advans are narrower than those on the Evo X they generate the sort of grip that'll liquefy your insides.
Tip the Ralliart into a corner and you'll be astonished by the lack of body roll. I was, and that's not bad given the suspension is - despite unique spring and damper rates - almost identical to that under a garden-variety Lancer.
The design of the interior is a slabby affair. Some might like the minimalist feel, I don't. The thing that really gets me about this car, though, is there's nothing to indicate you're in a Ralliart model. Sure, the steering wheel is straight out of the Evo X and so is the transmission, but it would be nice to have a Ralliart badge on the wheel.
In the mean time, under that eat-your-face-off bonnet rests a detuned version of the Evo X's 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder which thrashes out 177kW and 343Nm. Its peak power is produced later than the Rex, though, and it's 145kg heavier, too.
So it would seem that steroid abuse can sometimes be a good thing. Mitsubishi has pumped the Ralliart Lancer full of the stuff like there's no tomorrow and its come away with muscles on its muscles, but its balls haven't shrunk at all.